In April 2016, Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched its Vision 2030, an “ambitious yet achievable” roadmap for economic and developmental action. In it, Mohammad bin Salman, deputy crown prince and chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs, sets out commitments to enable Saudi Arabia to become a “global investment powerhouse” and a hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa.
Plans to diversify the economy away from oil encompass multiple sectors and involve the significant improvement of digital infrastructure. To achieve its demanding goals, the Kingdom requires an efficient and cost-effective workforce, across industries, and a consistent pipeline of productive workers, equipped with the right skills and capabilities.
Currently, however, there are acknowledged skills gaps in areas ranging from technology to leadership and a mismatch between the outputs of higher education and the requirements of the jobs market, which is explicitly mentioned in the vision.
To achieve growth, employers will need to rethink the demographics of their workforce, factoring in the strong emphasis on nationalisation under the Nitaqat programme (designed to increase the number of Saudi nationals employed by the private sector), plus global trends and disruptors such as increased automation, digitisation and artificial intelligence.