In Saudi Arabia, we have a huge advantage in that 70% of our population is aged under 30. There’s a huge opportunity for private sector companies to hire young Saudis and train them according to market needs. Instead of focusing on the skills we’re lacking, we should try to be positive about the skills the upcoming generation has, and how this can impact on business.
Future generations are focused on developing and having a social mission. Our young people aren’t solely focused on how much they get paid. The first question I frequently get asked by fresh graduates is 'what am I going to learn?' It’s vital to think about young people in terms of development, as money can retain good people only for so long.
This is why THIQAH recruits for behaviours and potential, rather than experience and qualifications. We want people to be flexible and able to work in different roles. Our environment is dynamic, with projects coming and going. The business environment is different to the past, so we need entrepreneurial people with drive and ambition. This all starts with training and recruitment, and having a sound learning and development strategy. You must give young people the right training, coaching and support systems. This is supported at a national level, with governmental support in free training and mentoring for young generations, with universities also encouraged to provide free professional training for their students. This lack of partnership between education and business is a theme around the world, as many employers feel students lack the skill sets for the corporate environment.
Social media and recruitment
Social media is a top tool for engagement with both current and potential employees. Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest-growing users of social media, particularly Twitter and YouTube. Recruitment is no longer about having an advertisement online or in a paper, as young people don’t read these any more. It’s about growing your brand and connecting with young people through their channels, with engaging content.
It’s also about having a joined-up social media policy. Different channels work better for different things. For example, we’re not going to speak to business professionals on Snapchat – we’re much more likely to communicate with them via LinkedIn. However, for large audiences, we go to Twitter, or to YouTube for multimedia.
Corporate and social responsibility
Prioritising community and social responsibility is also a great way to engage with young people and build brands. At THIQAH, we run an event for IT students where we provide training and work shadowing, as well as inviting them in-house to show them how things work. It’s an informal opportunity for students to see what we do and for us to then approach the most impressive candidates.
It’s also important to make sure you offer training for the right reasons. I see some organisations putting out statistics about training 60% of their organisation, but I know the training quality is low. We make sure our training is relevant and high quality. We also offer employees the opportunity to find their own training programmes. If we think it’s worthwhile, we’ll pay for them to undertake the course. It’s a great way of empowering our employers and encouraging them to take personal responsibility.