New report shows four out of every five jobseekers in Saudi Arabia are female

Kingdom is making progress in getting more women into work – but there are still obstacles to tackle

A new report from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics (GAS) has revealed that 80.6 per cent of the country’s jobseekers are women.

Such a large percentage suggests the kingdom is having difficulty creating enough jobs to meet the demands of the female population who want to work.

Of just under 14 million employed people in Saudi (including expatriates), two million are female compared to almost 12 million males, according to labour market data released by GAS earlier this month.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, head of the economy and energy committee of the Shoura Council, was reported as saying there are “logistical issues” that prevent women from occupying some positions.

He added that women’s contribution to the economy is significant and growing quickly given the short time since women entered the labour market.

The logistical issues for women include not being able to drive themselves to work, instead relying on public transport, and the requirement for gender-segregated workplaces.

However, last year a government jobs website crashed after 72,000 women applied for just 5,000 teaching jobs, indicating such hurdles may not be impassable.

And General Electric recently hired its first Saudi female engineers, in a significant step forward for the kingdom.

The number of Saudi females employed in the private sector increased by 144 per cent between the end of 2012 and the third quarter of 2016 – from 203,088 to 496,800, according to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

Saudi’s Ministry of Labour recently announced plans to create 60,000 jobs in the non-profit sector by 2020, creating a rich source of jobs for female jobseekers.

And the ever-increasing female participation in the country’s workforce has had other knock-on effects such as the growth of ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem, which have benefited from women needing to get to work.