Saudi graduates lack job market skills


Al Riyadh Newspaper

The current social transformation taking place as a part of Vision 2030 has made us face reality when it comes to quality and innovation in the search for promising employment opportunities.

One thing these transformations have done is to turn our youth away from routine jobs and force them to search for employment that is actually needed in the job market. The main reason behind this transformation is that the criteria for employment has drastically changed and it is now clearly seen that skills are much more important than a university degree or certificate. In fact, I would say that a university degree is useless without training and proper technical qualification.

Most university students pursue any degree, which they can obtain with minimal effort, and then demand jobs in an aggressive manner. There is something that is lacking with this approach and that is a skill set that can prepare graduates for the job market. Skills, like being proficient in English or having certain technical skills or any unique skill that is related to the graduate’s area of expertise, are very important.

Currently, when reading the resumes of our university graduates, we usually find a university degree and one or two training courses. The rest of the resume is empty and only those with connections are able to find a job. Those without connections will join the long list of the unemployed. The graduate then will then realize when it is too late that his/her degree is worthless without skills and experience.

Universities offer knowledge, not skill training and if they want to give their graduates a real chance at finding employment, they should start offering their students opportunities to gain practical training in the job market before giving them a degree. To be fair, many universities keep changing their curricula in an attempt to cater to the needs of the job market but despite their efforts, the average university graduate in our country is not equipped with the needed skills and thus is not ready to join the market as a productive employee.

Another issue is that many of our graduates are majoring in subjects that are not needed in the job market. We have a problem in bridging the wants and expectations of graduates with what is available and needed in the job market. If we are to succeed in reducing youth unemployment, we must help students by empowering, encouraging and strengthening their self-confidence.