Career development is an enduring, compound process that involves an individual who decides to pursue a particular path of life concerning work. Professional development means living and managing life on a daily basis, learning new skills in pursuant of individuals’ vocations and maintaining life at work. The present world is premised on individuals that work to earn a living. It might be personal work or employment. Either way, people have to direct their effort on activities that generate absolute returns. Career development is a progressive and lifelong process that imparts new ideas in a person on a daily basis for the purpose of enhancing skills.
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Every individual goes through a learning process from the time they are born to the time they die. Therefore, it is natural and instinctive for individuals to crave to develop their career and be the most skillful staff. Moreover, it is natural and spontaneous for individuals to develop ambitions, which can propel them to the apex of any career that they pursue. Without ambitions, there would be no professional development. Different organizations and countries offer comparable or divergent platforms for career development. Therefore, it is possible to distinguish institutions based on the nature of their professional development programs. This paper will explore the challenges and opportunities for career development in Saudi Arabian institutions.
The State of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a nation found in the Arabian Peninsula. It has a population of about 28 million people. Almost a third of the population comprises labor immigrants. Saudi Arabia is the leading producer of crude oil in the world and the largest exporter of petroleum. The gains from oil production (also known as “petrodollars”) have led to Saudi Arabia becoming a key player in the global economic arena. Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that is a member of the G20 nations. In addition to the proceeds from oil processing, the country’s economic potential is determined by the natural resources that it possesses. Saudi Arabia harbors the second largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world.
Indeed, the country is one of the emerging players in the global economy because it has the requisite resources to support major projects (Hutchings, Lirio, and Metclafe 1764). The availability of resources contributes to cropping up of industries and subsequent attraction of human capital. Saudi Arabia is regarded as a high-income economy because of the attractive wages that the organizations pay the employees. Moreover, the country has created a prolific environment for private sector development. Three-quarters of business enterprises and employment opportunities are in the private sector. The government acts only as a regulator. Saudi Arabia has more than one coastline along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The country’s strategic position makes it a key player in the shipping industry.
Career Development Objectives in Saudi Organizations
Most organizations primarily deal with capital goods. They also import a majority of the products that they require because they are in a desert country. Saudi Arabia imports a big share of its human capital because it does not have enough trained manpower to serve the labor market. Like most global organizations, the Saudi Arabian companies have defined career objectives for the employees. Globalization and the need to remain as a major player in the global economy have led to Saudi Arabia identifying training as a primary goal. The training aims at upgrading the workforce to international standards. A majority of the local workers lack the essential technical skills and experience that can enable organizations to compete globally.
Hence, it is imperative for the organizations to equip the workers with skills that are parallel to the international standards. A significant challenge that faces the Saudi organizations is a dependency on immigrant labor. Foreigners who are likely to leave the country at any time manage a majority of the departments in many organizations. Therefore, one ought to apply a two-pronged approach to examine the career development objectives of the Saudi organizations. The first approach analyzes professional development goals with respect to the immigrant workers. On the other hand, the second approach examines career development objectives with respect to local employees. According to the G20 employment plan of 2014, the Saudi Arabian government plans to train more local employees as a way to stem the high dependency on foreign workers (Achoui 37).
The government of Saudi Arabia has made it easy for experienced foreign workers to relocate to the country, work and train local workers who will later take over from them. Indeed, the government has relaxed visa requirements for foreign workers as a way to facilitate their relocation to the Saudi market. Working as an expatriate in Saudi Arabia offers an excellent opportunity for individuals to advance their careers. Many expatriates move to Saudi Arabia since they get a chance to occupy higher positions than what they previously held in their countries. Many countries have saturated their labor markets making it difficult for employees to achieve vertical development (Achoui 39). One of the saturated markets is the American aviation industry. There are too many pilots in America to the extent that a pilot has to take a long time to attain the level of a captain. Relocating to a country like Saudi Arabia where competition is minimal enables many pilots to achieve the standard of captain within a short period. Training the local workers allows a country to be labor independent and guarantees the stability and continuity of the organizations.
Steps in Career Development Programs
A career development program should be a systematic process that is not universal. The program is dependent on the objectives and needs of a particular organization or nation. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the government commissioned a labor survey that provided data on the distribution of work in different sectors (Omair 125). The survey indicated that there were very few Saudi’s with technical knowledge in specialized areas. Therefore, it recommended employee training as a way of capacity building. Technical training programs are crafted and structured in a way that encourages both men and women to take the schooling. Like most Arab nations, Saudi Arabia has set standards that limit interaction between men and women.
The disconnection between men and women is premised on strict Islamic teachings that the country observes. The career development programs are established through progressive plans by both the government and the private sector. A significant challenge that faces the programs is the willingness of Saudi nationals to take up training and employment. The Saudi companies are supposed to give the local employees priority during recruitment. The government has come up with labor policies that seek to ensure that local workers get jobs after going through a career development program. The public and private companies are expected to embrace the spirit of the labor policies.
Currently, the private sector is the major employer in Saudi Arabia. A majority of the private companies hire foreign employees. On the other hand, the Saudi government employs local people. Many expatriates work on a contract basis that range from six months to three years. Therefore, the companies renew the contracts of expatriates only when they find it necessary. When vacancies that can be filled by Saudi employees arise, the locals are allowed to take over. The government came up with this policy to ensure that foreign workers are not antagonized. A smooth transition between foreigners and locals allows the Saudi workers to ascend to positions that were once reserved for foreigners. The Saudi government is fully involved in training its locals by providing scholarships for students to study in foreign institutions. The scholarships are aligned with the needs of different labor sectors that the country needs to staff adequately.
Career Pathing and Career Self-Management
Career pathing is a step-by-step approach by an individual towards the development of their profession. It enables an individual to study the available career opportunities, find out how they can be achieved, and set out to pursue them. Primary and elementary education allows individuals to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, when people join the institutions of higher learning, they can assume career paths that align with their strengths and passion. Career pathing can be developed at any level. Most people develop it when they join tertiary institutions or after completing the college education. Furthermore, many people realize the requirements of various careers when they are in college or after finishing the university education. Career pathing enables an individual to organize for growth in an organization. Further, it allows individuals to prepare themselves for certain positions by acquiring the appropriate skills. Apart from acquiring skills and knowledge, the employee of an organization can develop the personal character to suit the requirements of a particular position (Wooten 552).
Career pathing is broad and can be approached through different models that are compatible with individuals and organizational setups. On the other hand, career self-management refers to the steps that individuals take to pursue their careers to the highest levels. Each employee has an ambition that can either be achieved within or without an organization. Therefore, when people plan their careers according to ambitions that lie outside the organizational setup, they are said to be self-managing their careers. Career pathing restricts a person to operate within the organization. As a result, the employees mold their competencies to align with the organizational needs. Career self-management applies the knowledge, skill and ability (KSA) technique as its anchor.
Myths Related to Career Planning and Advancement
A myth is an absolute belief that one holds and does not have a factual basis. Different people have diverse tales based on their cultural backgrounds or past experiences. Many people believe that they should begin at definite entry points when joining organizations because they hold certain qualifications. A majority of employees have postgraduate degrees think that they should join companies at management levels. Some workers believe that it is precarious to have more qualifications than their managers. Having high qualifications might make the managers feel insecure, therefore declining to hire the experienced worker. The myth is not true because managers are supposed to be objective and free to work with everyone. High academic qualifications do not translate to experience. Another myth that many employees have is the belief that they should get employment in their areas of specialization. In reality, some staff members are reluctant to apply for jobs that do not meet their academic skills.
In Saudi Arabia, the principal career groups fall under building and construction, financial sector, domestic work and petroleum industry. The petroleum industry is the heartbeat of Saudi Arabia. People with expertise in mining and petroleum production are assured of employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Petroleum production covers all skills from technical to engineering expertise. There are massive oil fields and reserves that provide opportunities for those in the lower cadres of employment. The financial sector is another major career group because it supports all the projects that contribute to the economy. The Saudi Arabian population took too long to develop the necessary human capital to manage the financial sector. Hence, the country had to rely on foreign players. A country cannot regulate the financial sector without essential skills. Therefore, Saudi Arabia hired foreign experts to manage its financial sector (Obaid and Lesley 6).
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Career Opportunities and Challenges
Saudi Arabia provides both opportunities and challenges to people that seek to pursue careers in the country. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state. Hence, there are rules that govern the interaction between men and women. The rules hinder the capacity of both genders to pursue certain careers. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia has numerous career opportunities because it is an emerging economy. In Saudi Arabia, most companies are less than 20 years old. Besides, various companies keep on cropping up. Career opportunities in Saudi Arabia arise due to high turnover of expatriates (Bozioneros 112). The turnover gives an opportunity for new blood to take over the jobs.
Resources are availed for entrepreneurs to set up new businesses through the support of the government and private institutions. The initiative creates employment opportunities and allows employees to scale the employment ladder as they occupy advanced positions. A policy by the government to encourage the development of local experts and hire them in large numbers poses a significant challenge to immigrant employees. The policy is discriminatory because it causes stagnation. Besides, the policy denies a majority of the immigrants an opportunity to work in Saudi companies. Saudi Arabia is a desert, and it experiences temperatures that go up to 42-degrees Fahrenheit. Such a weather condition is too unfriendly to foreigners. Consequently, the foreigners are unable to stay in the country for long. Indeed, poor weather condition makes it hard for the Saudi companies to retain a majority of the experts. Besides, the companies are unable to nurture certain career positions due to inadequate personnel.
Saudi Arabia offers both opportunities and challenges to employees that wish to advance their professions based on the nature of the careers and the type of organization. A majority of the challenges are surmountable. On the other hand, most opportunities are unique. Many organizations found in Saudi Arabia offer attractive wages to the employees. Indeed, Saudi Arabia can be counted as one of the best-paying nations in terms of wages. Globalization has opened up the country that was once a desert and transformed it into an admirable destination for workers and tourists.
Achoui, Mustapha. “Human Resource Development in Gulf Countries: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges Facing Saudi Arabia.” Human Resource Development International 12.1 (2014): 35-46. Print.
Bozioneros, Niko. “Expatriation outside the Boundaries of the Multinational Corporation: A Study with Expatriate Nurses in Saudi Arabia.” Human Resource Management 48.1 (2009): 111-134. Print.
Hutchings, Kate, Pamela Lirio, and Beverly Metcalfe. “Gender, Globalization and Development: Re-evaluation of the Nature of Women’s Global Work.” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 23.9 (2012): 1763-1787. Print.
Obaid, Almotairy, and Stainbank Lesley. “Compliance with International Education Standards in Saudi Arabia: Policy and Education Implications.” Journal of Business Studies Quarterly 5.4 (2014): 5-20. Print.
Omair, Katlin. “Typology of Career Development for Arab Women Managers in the United Arab Emirates.” Career Development International 15.2 (2010): 121-143. Print.
Wooten, William. “Using Knowledge, Skill and Ability (KSA) Data to Identify Career Pathing Opportunities: An Application of Job Analysis to Internal Manpower Planning.” Public Personnel Management 22.4 (1993): 551-562. Print.