SMEs offer no succor to GCC’s female jobseekers

Two critical pillars to solving the GCC youth unemployment challenge are SMEs and women. But a recent whitepaper released by, YouGov and Education for Employment (EFE) reveals that local SMEs hold little appeal for young GCC women jobseekers.

The findings show that young women respondents in the Middle East unanimously (94 percent percent) voted against local SMEs when it came to job attractiveness.

“This apparent misalignment between preferences of female job seekers and availability of employment within certain types of organizations may contribute to high unemployment rates among young women if they are not sufficiently flexible in adjusting their preferences,” the whitepaper warned.

It also threw up several other interesting findings: more than half of the young female job seekers revealed that finding a first full-time job was harder for women than men. This reflected why the GCC region tended to have lower proportions of women employees at the workplace, with 66 percent of respondents indicating that their offices are made up of at most 25 percent women.

“When compared to other regions in [the] MENA [region], those in the GCC were most likely to face societal pressures when looking to secure a job, with young female job seekers in the GCC being most likely to select ‘lack of gender-segregated environment’ (32 percent).  They also cited ’transportation/commute difficulties’ (68 percent) as important challenges when securing a job,” the paper showed.

Government and public sector jobs continue to remain the most popular choice of employment for females with 38 percent voting for this category even though only 16 percent actually work in the public sector.

Overall, the findings show that a vast majority of young women and employers in the MENA region personally support policies to drive up the employment of young women, which is also perceived to have a hugely positive impact on companies’ bottom lines.

“The potential economic benefit of increased women’s employment is equally striking. According to recent estimates, if women’s participation in labor markets in MENA equaled that of men’s, regional GDP could rise by as much as 47 percent over the next decade,” the study found.