Harvard-Sponsored Research Project Makes Progress

The Harvard Kennedy School coordinated research project entitled, “A Pilot Study on Occupational Choices by Saudi Youth”, which is undertaken by Al Yamamah University in cooperation with King Saud University, is making progress towards its end goals and objectives.

The project, which was launched in July 2017 for one year, focuses on the evaluation of Saudi individual choice patterns for alternative labor and employment scenarios (policies) that could make a direct and practical contribution towards the Nitaqat program, which has proven inefficient in the sense that the gap between labor demand and supply still persists irrespectively.

The proposed program of research would complement the system of quotas and occupational bans in place through the introduction of monetary and non-monetary incentives. From a more theoretical perspective, the proposed research program could complement Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” policy document by contributing towards the ‘Thriving Economy’ theme of the vision statement. Offering a toolkit of demand driven policy initiatives and practices could allow the Kingdom to correct imbalances in the labor market, thus reducing unemployment and improve the national economy’s competitiveness standings.

Dr. Yaseen Ghulam, dean of postgraduate studies and scientific research at YU, said, “the research project focuses on the rapid transformation of the national economy which seems to impact disproportionately the more dynamic segment of the Saudi working population. This is a problem that needs to be tackled for two main reasons. On the one hand, those in their early years in the labor market find it particularly difficult to adapt to changing labor conditions. On the other hand, slow adaptation to changing employment and labor conditions may affect the competitiveness of the Saudi economy.”

The outcomes of this study will contribute greatly to the fulfillment of Vision 2030 with regards to Saudi labor market adjustments by identifying the determinants of individuals’ occupational choices which could offer an evidence-based perspective to Saudi policy makers and managers. “This project is a pilot study and upon completion of the project,” according to Dr. Ghulam, “a larger and more significant project is likely to be approved leading to a significant increase in YU research contribution, community service and position within a relatively short period of time.”

The research team consist of Dr. Yaseen Ghulam, dean of postgraduate studies and scientific research at YU, Dr. Fahad Saleh Alolayan, vice dean for business development, King Abdullah Institute for Research & Consulting Studies, KSU, Dr. Saleh M. Alodayni, assistant professor of economics, College of Business Administration, KSU, Prof. Shabbar Jaffry, UK and Dr. Alexandros Apostolakis, Greece.