The Cooper Fitch Salary Guide for Public Sector represents the predicted market-rate salary ranges for new recruits across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 2020.
Hiring in Saudi Arabia’s public sector has reached a critical juncture as governments seek to quell rapid inflation of public sector salaries over the past three years. Yet, at the same time, they are trying to hire experienced and talented private sector employees to lead high-octane government projects under Vision 2030, which continues to drive up their costs.
Public sector salaries in the kingdom are expected to rise by 3% in 2020 across the full spectrum of state departments and semi government-owned organisations. The Vision 2030 economic development roadmap has positively impacted the employment market across all sectors, with an increase in merger and acquisition (M&A) and investment activities, development of ‘gigaprojects’, privatisation of government companies, implementation of new business legislation and a significant drive to boost the tourism and cultural sector.
Recruitment activity in the year ahead is set to continue the momentum it built up in 2019, with an expected increase in hires of top Saudi and international talent. The privatisation agenda is prompting new demand for PPP (public-private partnership), transaction and economic development advisors from global markets, with a focus on decentralising activities out of Riyadh and Jeddah. However, Riyadh will remain the hub of public sector recruitment in Saudi Arabia, our experts predict.
Other in-demand roles in 2020 include public policy experts, economic researchers, international destination management experts as Saudi seeks to boost its tourism industry, advisors across all disciplines, and transformation experts. There is a notable shortage of economic development and PPP advisors in the kingdom at present, and organisations will continue looking to international markets to fill these roles.
Historically inflated salaries is a significant challenge, as it gives jobseekers unrealistic expectations. Other challenges include the speed of change in the economy, which puts pressure on organisations to quickly adapt, as well as a general cultural shift within government entities as they seek a more commercial private sector way of operating. This is altering workforce requirements and changing job descriptions.
Technological advances are also altering government operations, as CIOs (chief information officers) have bigger budgets and the strategies to ensure pioneering technologies, such as eGovernment systems, are being utilised.
Meanwhile, high demand for Saudi national talent is raising competition between state entities. Organisations would do well to carefully consider the cultural and personality fit of candidates to ensure they can fulfil the job description, our experts say. When recruiting expatriate staff, care must be taken to ensure transparency and consistency in terms of the requirements of the role, and, once in the position, organisations should provide career progression, mentorship and training to retain talent.
The top driver for candidates seeking a new role is the desire to be part of the social, economic and cultural reforms taking place as part of Vision 2030. For candidates coming from the private sector, it is their interest in leveraging private sector experience and international education within fast-evolving government entities.
Riyadh remains the prime location for Saudi talent, while the US, UK, South Africa, Ireland and AsiaPacific are the top international source markets for advisors, subject matter experts and board advisory positions.
Download the full Public Sector Salary Guide 2020 here
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