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Implications of COVID-19 on the Labor Market of Saudi Arabia: The Role of Universities for a Sustainable Workforce

Abdulrahman O. Al-Youbi (), Abdulmonem Al-Hayani (), Ali Rizwan () and Hani Choudhry ()
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Abdulrahman O. Al-Youbi: Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Abdulmonem Al-Hayani: Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Ali Rizwan: Department of Industrial Engineering, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
Hani Choudhry: Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 17, 1-13

Abstract: Governments all over the world are taking preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, these measures have caused both long- and short-term effects on the socioeconomic situation of many countries. Due to lockdowns and business shutdowns, people are becoming unemployed or are working on reduced wages, creating a unique type of career shock in the global job market. Moreover, this phenomenon also produces a negative reflux among workers, encouraging a new skill set for this unprecedented time. The present study aimed to investigate the implications of COVID-19 on the labor market of Saudi Arabia. Data were collected with the help of a questionnaire from both public and private sector employers ( n = 234) to inquire about their perceptions of the new skill set required in the changing business environment during and after pandemics. The data were analyzed with the help of descriptive statistics as well as simple and companion regression. The results indicate that the healthcare, service and education sectors have quickly transformed themselves from conventional to remote forms of working and consider virtual skills, autonomous working and effective communication the most important skills for their workforce during the current and the postpandemic scenarios. Interviews were then conducted with educational leaders to develop a conceptual framework by integrating both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the surveys. The results of the study are beneficial for the educational leadership of higher education institutions (HEIs) to better align their educational programs with changing market needs. By doing so, they not only increase the sustainability of the workforce but also minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the Saudi labor market.

Keywords: COVID-19; higher education; labor market; employability skills; pandemic; King Abdulaziz University; universities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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