International Women’s Day is a time for women across the world to celebrate their achievements, and to also look ahead to new opportunities and goals. The role for women in Saudi Arabia in 2018 is changing rapidly – largely due to many of the pillars outlined in Saudi Vision 2030 – which emphasize a greater need and support for women in the work place; the encouragement of female entrepreneurship; access to sports; and of course the right to drive at home in the Kingdom.
In honor of International Women’s Day, four important organizations came together in Riyadh to announce the launch of a new employability initiative to prepare young Saudi women with skills training and job placement in the retail, hospitality, and other promising sectors. The organizations are JP Morgan, Hilton, the International Youth Foundation and Alf Khair, a social enterprise founded in 2013 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with the mission of providing Saudi youth with access to opportunities.
In making the announcement which combines well known global businesses with local philanthropic organizations, Bader Alamoudi, Senior Country Manager, J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia said: “Woman are an important part of any competitive workforce. At J.P. Morgan in Riyadh, more than 35 percent of our employees are women. We are proud to support this innovative program to help young Saudi women enter the labour market in industries that can offer good jobs.”
The initiative comes at a perfect time for women in the Kingdom, as the business sector in Saudi Arabia expands and diversifies. To ensure success on the ground in Riyadh, the initiative has engaged local partner Alf Khair which has a solid track record of training women to enter the Saudi job market. Alf Khair will recruit and pre-screen participants, prepare them for job interviews, provide an orientation on the sectors and employer expectations, and offer one-on-one follow-up support once young women have secured employment. Alf Khair will also train participants using its Alf Darb curriculum, which will precede and complement PTS with its emphasis on youth creating a positive mindset.
Speaking about the International Women’s Day launch, Bill Reese CEO of the International Youth Foundation[IYF] said, “Through our global partner network, IYF proudly draws on the rich experience of organizations such as Alf Khair. Their local knowledge and networks allow us, J.P. Morgan, and Hilton to more effectively achieve our goal of preparing young Saudi women to access quality employment.” The initiative will offer work readiness training using IYF’s proven Passport to Success curriculum which teaches skills via interactive sessions, including time management and problem-solving. Participants then will be placed in jobs with established employers in the retail and hospitality sectors, where they will receive three to four weeks of job-specific technical training plus mentoring from within the hiring company.
That’s good news for companies like Hilton who are also part of this new initiative. Speaking about the new program, Rudi Jagersbacher, President of Hilton for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, said, “Hilton’s future depends on resilient and thriving societies and that starts with investing in young people. Hilton has been continually recognised as a leading employer in Saudi Arabia and employs 209 female Team Members in the country, including 158 Saudi Nationals.”
With a renewed emphasis on finding women in Saudi Arabia greater access to the job market, and new regulatory changes which have prompted a greater willingness by companies to hire young women, this announcement in Riyadh made it a very happy International Women’s Day for women across the Kingdom.