Unemployed need to grab jobs at retail shops
The crackdown on illegal foreign workers has seen positions open up for Saudis in the retail sector, but many business owners say they are struggling to attract citizens.
“The retail sector can provide more than 100,000 jobs for Saudis. At the same time, it costs less to hire Saudis than expat workers,” Farooq Al-Khateeb, a professor at King Abdulaziz University, told Arab News.
“Saudis have a great opportunity to occupy this sector instead of expatriate workers. Many Saudis have proven that they have skills to work as salespersons in commercial stores. However, companies that own stores in malls do not offer incentives in their salary packages to attract Saudis,” said Al-Khateeb.
Isamael Hafez, who works as a supervisor for a private company selling perfume, told Arab News that his firm was looking to hire Saudis because it was so expensive to recruit foreigners.
“We previously hired Egyptians as salespeople. We currently have expatriates working at some of our branches who have not transferred their sponsorship to our company. This will create problems with the labor authorities. So we have to hire Saudi staff to work at all our branches,” he said.
Retailers say that young men at the age of 21 do not have experience and maturity to work in the industry. The situation is different with women, who mostly start to work at a later age. Many perfume stores have started to hire Saudi women.
Saudis reportedly currently only make up 25 percent of the 1.5 million workers in the retail sector. The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation has been setting up programs that would train Saudis for careers in this sector.
Saudi Arabia is currently ranked behind the United Arab Emirates in terms of retail sales volumes. It has also launched huge projects that have increased the number of commercial malls and stores to 4.45 million square meters. Riyadh and Jeddah have the largest share of retail space.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) currently comprises 200 shopping center projects under implementation, at a cost of $65 billion. The sales volume of shopping centers in the GCC is now $30 billion, contributing about 5.5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product of these countries. This percentage is likely to increase in light of the consumption and expenditure growth of individuals, according to statistics published by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.