Skills shortages reported in the Kingdom
A recent report by Hays, the global recruiting experts, has revealed that Saudi Arabia’s construction and real estate market is showing signs of recovery and growth following a period of subdued activity in response to COVID-19.
Lockdown measures and travel restrictions have limited workforce capabilities and drastically reduced the global demand for oil forced the government to make budget cutbacks resulting in many construction and real estate projects being put on hold. Eighteen months on however, the economy has bounced back.
Since the beginning of 2021, there have been positive signs of growth with statistics from Reuters showing that the economy grew by 1.5% year-on-year as of Q3, with the non-oil revenue sector returning to pre-pandemic levels, growing by 10.1%. These figures, together with the high vaccine rollout and easing of travel restrictions, have provoked much optimism in the Kingdom. It remains to be seen how the discovery of Omicron will affect global economic recovery in the coming months.
Like the rest of the globe, hiring activity is back to pre-pandemic level and this is no different in the Kingdom while the next 12 months set to surge far beyond these levels. The local unemployment rate has hit a new 10-year low of 11.7% and is on track to reach the government’s target of 7% by 2030, although it seems the skills shortage is a global phenomenon.
Skills in demand
Saudi has not been immune to skills shortages. In line with the Kingdom’s vision to become a global leader within investment, tourism and trade, demand for the world’s very best talent is high. Hays has reported a demand for large-scale project experience in the following sectors:
- Design / Pre-construction
- Project delivery
- Digital technology
What candidates want
Talent attraction is key and Hays has reported that candidates are looking for competitive salaries with good benefits packages; job security; and efficient onboarding processes.
What employers want
Hiring trends in Saudi reflect its ambitious 2030 vision, with highly driven, highly skilled professionals being the most in demand. Employers look for candidates who have worked on major, multi-billion US$ projects which are similar in nature and end-use to those they will be working on.
According to Hays, candidates must also have experience working with innovative tech, demonstrate a track record of delivering projects / phases from inception to completion, and a proven success in senior leadership positions.
Hays says that being able to showcase this experience in a meaningful way is incredibly important too and they advise candidates to highlight how their skills and experiences align to the role they are applying for.
Aaron Fletcher, Business Manager – Saudi Arabia, Hays commented: “In line with the Kingdom’s vision to become a global leader within investment, tourism and trade, demand for the world’s very best talent is high and there is typically a shortage of supply of such talent in the region. As such, benefits paid in addition to salary are typically most generous in Saudi Arabia compared to the rest of the Gulf region. Relocation, housing and education allowances are offered as part of a standard employment package in Saudi Arabia.”