Saudi Unemployment Declines, Approaching Government Targets

One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Saudi Unemployment Declines, Approaching Government Targets

One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The unemployment rate among Saudis, during Q2 of 2023, decreased to 8.3%, marking a notable decline from the 9.7% recorded in the corresponding period in 2022.

This development aligns more closely with the ambitious target set by the Saudi government in its “Vision 2030” initiative, which seeks to achieve a 7% unemployment rate in the Kingdom.

Progress in reducing the rate of joblessness in the Kingdom can be traced back to the government’s steadfast commitment to addressing unemployment issues among both Saudi men and women by actively fostering increased job prospects within the local job market.

In Q1 of 2023, the unemployment rate among Saudis stood at 8.5%, but it dropped to 8.3% in Q2 thanks to government programs, initiatives, and decisions aimed at localizing a number of jobs within its labor market reform measures.

The Saudi Human Resources and Social Development Ministry is intensifying its efforts to localize several sectors within the Saudi market.

It is doing so through various initiatives aimed at supporting private sector establishments, which are expected to have a positive impact on unemployment rates for the overall population.

The ministry’s workforce-supporting strategy has played a role in reducing the overall unemployment rates.

Aligning with the Kingdom’s objectives of empowering women and enhancing their economic participation, the ministry'’ efforts have yielded an unprecedented reduction in the unemployment rate among Saudi women in Q2, 2023, reaching 15.7% compared to 19.3% in the same period in 2022.

A recent report by S&P Global showed that labor market reforms in Saudi Arabia have nearly doubled the women’s labor force participation rate in the country from approximately 19% in 2016 to nearly 36% in 2022.

As a result of measures aimed at improving access to the labor market requirements and the effectiveness of policies involving young Saudi talents in various fields, an official report showed that the participation rate in the labor force for the total Saudi population (males and females aged 15 and above) in Q2, 2023, is approximately 51.7%.

This figure remains largely stable compared to 52.4% in the previous quarter.

It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources Development Fund has contributed to supporting 1.4 million Saudis through training, empowerment, and guidance programs during the first half of 2023.

Approximately 79,000 establishments across various regions of the kingdom have benefited from the fund’s support, with about 95% of these establishments falling under the category of medium, small, and micro-sized enterprises.

Saudi Shura Council member Fadel al-Buainain told Asharq Al-Awsat that fluctuations in the unemployment rate on a quarterly basis are expected due to economic and commercial variables, as well as changes in the labor market.

Buainain believes that such relative fluctuations during a quarter help direct efforts and address any issues if they arise or enhance gains.

He explained that during the current year, the unemployment rate rose to 8.5% in Q1, then decreased to 8.3% in Q2, indicating that there have been corrective measures and improvements within a span of three months.



Saudi Energy and Economy Ministries Launch Carbon Capture, Utilization Challenge with UpLink

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
TT

Saudi Energy and Economy Ministries Launch Carbon Capture, Utilization Challenge with UpLink

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) and Ministry of Energy (MoEnergy), in collaboration with UpLink, have launched the Carbon Capture and Utilization Challenge which seeks innovative solutions that accelerate the circular carbon economy.

The challenge was launched during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in a main session titled ‘SDG 13 and Interlinkages with Other SDGs – Climate Action’ held on July 10.

The challenge encourages startups to submit distinct solutions that drive carbon reductions through sustainable systems transformation, including carbon capture technologies, novel carbon utilization applications, and industrial integration.

The initiative emphasizes the importance of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), highlighting the crucial role innovation plays in driving a sustainable and economically prosperous future and the important role of carbon removal in reaching net-zero goals by mid-century.

“The climate change issue and sustainability is a global issue,” Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said. “It cannot be attended to in regional scopes or as a smaller territorial thing. It has to be global.”

He stated that the Kingdom seeks to enhance its efforts to achieve its ambitious goal of reaching net zero by 2060 through the Circular Carbon Economy Framework, which not only reduces the impact of carbon emissions, but also values carbon as a resource with real economic value, rather than pollutant.

He also indicated that the Kingdom, in line with this vision, and in order to exploit the economic value of carbon worldwide, has launched, in partnership with leading organizations, a global carbon capture and utilization challenge.

The Minister stressed that Saudi Arabia, by adopting such challenge, is leading influential changes in efforts to confront climate change, as this challenge represents an opportunity for individuals and organizations to transform tomorrow’s challenges into today’s solutions, through joint efforts and pioneering innovations.

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim said: “The Kingdom is keen on a just, orderly, and pragmatic energy transition and is working towards the advancement of the circular carbon economy framework.”

“Through this challenge, related to innovation inside the circular carbon economy, we look forward to seeing new solutions that would help push innovation forward,” he said.

He encouraged all innovators and companies to come up with “out-of-the-box solutions.”

Submissions will be evaluated on factors such as scalability, commercial viability, technological readiness, and fundraising success.

Winners will be recognized as top innovators and form part of the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem, a curated program for founders, CEOs, executive directors, and other leaders. They will also share a cash award of up to CHF 300,000 and receive technical, business, and operational support to scale their ideas.