UNINTENDED OUTCOMES for RETURNING SAUDI COLLEGE GRADUATES

By Shuster, William F. | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

UNINTENDED OUTCOMES for RETURNING SAUDI COLLEGE GRADUATES


Shuster, William F., Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Introduction

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognizes the long-term need to develop its domestic talent pool. With the development of the long-term strategy for the Saudi economy, as well as the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) that reports to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education (SAMHE), there are levers in place to build high quality human capital. However, according to an informal analysis of recent Saudi Arabian business graduates educated in an American university, they did not perceive the strategy and programs as a shift in Saudi business philosophy. Instead, some perceived it as a way to build enhanced trust and credibility between the United States and Saudi Arabia, rather than as a talent management plan for Saudi Arabia. Additionally, while the students were very grateful for the educational opportunity, many were concerned about their potential inability to utilize their new-found American business skills in a traditional economy when they returned to Saudi Arabia. First and foremost, some were just worried about finding gainful employment. This article focuses on the Saudi Arabian government's economic strategy, and recent college graduates' perceptions and concerns regarding their career development and management opportunities. Furthermore, it offers implications and potential strategies for career development specialists.

Saudi Arabia Government Policy

The Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) was established in 1951 to meet the needs of Saudi students studying in United States' colleges and universities (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission [SACM], 2010). This organization reports to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education and is responsible for supporting Saudi students while studying in the United States. In addition, SACM wants to provide qualified individuals back to Saudi Arabia with the goal of achieving progress and development in the home country (SACM, 2010). The government of Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in creating a sustainable economy, which includes viable career opportunities for local citizens. SACM is a conduit for job openings in Saudi Arabia, and it provides a well-known career fair for recent foreign national graduates. SACM is part of a long-term strategy for the Saudi economy that provides a framework for four successive fiveyear plans aimed at achieving a comprehensive socioeconomic vision (Ministry of Economy and Planning [MEP] , n.d.)· Part of the plan of the Kingdom is to develop industries outside of the natural resource area such as oil. This will decrease economic and employment variations and increase stability. In addition, there is a want from the government to decrease the dependence on foreign labor in white collar value-creating opportunities (MEP, n.d.).

The Saudi Arabian government may well have been paying attention to Michael Porter when he developed Porter's Diamond, a model for National Competitive Advantage (Porter, 1990, March-April, p. 77). This model has been popularized in many business circles and focuses on the four broad attributes of:

Factor Endowments - a nation's position in factors of production, labor, infrastructure, climate, geography, and natural resources. If a country has a shortage of factor endowments, it must invest in advanced factors such as education.

Demand Conditions - the nature of home demand for an industry's product. The higher the level of economic development, the more a country can create sophisticated customers (customers defined here as hiring companies).

Related/Supporting Industries - home country suppliers of related industries which facilitate creation of multiplier effects on the economy (for example, home countries' companies buying products/services from each other).

Firm Strategy, Structure, and Rivalry - how conditions govern company creation and management.

These four attributes are mutually reinforcing and can lead to national competitive advantage. …

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