The ghost of unemployment
By: Talal Alharbi
Most of the reports issued by the International Labor Organization and local authorities contain alarming statistics about youth problems and unemployment. These reports also indicate that numbers of the youth exceed four million.
Being aware of the seriousness of the situation, we have repeatedly raised the alarm and hopefully the authorities would read the writings on the wall and start looking for a remedy to this problem before it could deteriorate further.
On many occasions, our officials and specialists have talked about this problem and called for working out short and long-term strategies to confront it. Unfortunately, the problem is still persisting as ever. We feel that decisions are taken but follow up and implementation are lacking.
It would be fruitless to continue reminding our officials of the problems resulting from unemployment, which makes the youth fall victims to countless influences in this “global village.”
We shouldn’t seek solutions to these problems through meaningless lectures and sermons. This is a mere lip service. We want to see quick and serious steps on the ground.
What’s more serious in this situation is when the youth feel they are being marginalized. I believe that the government shouldn’t become simply an employment authority, but it should expand its role to make the youth partners in decision-making.
Is it a utopian idea to call for the formation of youth parliaments in various regions of the Kingdom?
Let them shoulder their responsibilities in looking for solutions to their problems rather than waiting for others to do so.
We all know that thousands of these youth have studied abroad and they are familiar with other countries’ experiences in managing problems. Why not hold retreats where the youth representatives and competent officials could meet to work out strategic solutions.
The recent government measures in localizing jobs were an important step in the right direction.
It is high time that our youth got rid of the “culture of shame” and seek employment in various professions like the expatriates who transfer billions of dollars annually to their countries.
The national capital and the private sector also have their share of the blame because there are many corporations and enterprises that depend totally on foreign “experts” and pay them top salaries while giving the Saudis low profile jobs. We are not against making use of foreign expertise, and it is natural that these profit-seeking companies look after their interests, but the question is: Who will look after the interests of the nation? This is an open question!