Saudi freelancers almost doubled as economy recovers

RIYADH (Agencies): Freelance workforce growth is accelerating in Saudi Arabia as the number of local freelance workers has almost doubled in the first half of this year, with the economy showing more signs of recovery from the pandemic.

The number of Saudis who obtained a freelance employment document has reached 631,518, since the launch of a licensing program in 2019, up by 86 percent, according to figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

“People registered in 2021 so far have reached 292,315, while 282,766 citizens were registered in 2020,” the ministry told Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

Rana Zumai, a consultant who advises small and medium enterprises in the Kingdom, told Arab News that a license to practice one’s skills or use one’s craft opened doors of opportunities. She said with a license it becomes possible for skilled Saudis to become self-employed and ensure a steady source of income.

The consultant said there is a great demand in the fields of graphic designing, marketing and advertising, confectionery, jewelry and coffee industry and real estate services, etc.

Zumai said the demand for skills in these fields is likely to grow. “This will have a positive result: An increase in local content and economic activity in small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” she said.

The ministry also said most freelancers are aged between 20 and 30 years old, with most of them working in graphic design, marketing and advertising, and family businesses, such as designing jewelry and providing coffee, in addition to real estate services and handicrafts.

An increasing number of professionals in the world are working freelance and by 2027, roughly half of the workforce will consist of contractors and freelancers, Huxley reported in an article titled “Rise of contract recruitment in Saudi Arabia.”

The ministry said it is working to introduce new categories in the field of self-employment in 2021. It said it will likely include health practitioners, media professionals and tourist guides. Agreements were signed with financial technology companies to provide electronic payment solutions services for freelancers, it said.

“A support program for freelance delivery workers will be launched soon through the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) and in cooperation with the Communications and Information Technology Commission,” the ministry said.

The ministry launched in November 2020, a Labor Reform Initiative under the National Transformation Program to enhance the contractual relationship between workers and employers, and to support its vision of establishing an attractive job market, empowering and developing labor competencies and developing the work environment in the Kingdom.

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