Socio-cultural economic factors influencing Saudi nationals' involvement in the industrial and vocational sectors in Saudi Arabia
Some industrial and vocational jobs, in many parts of Saudi society, are still disdained and not accepted as steady work and there is an obvious lack of Saudi nationals' participation in the labour force in the industrial and vocational sectors. This study, therefore, investigates this phenomenon and some socio-cultural and economic factors behind it. The broad objectives of this research were to investigate social acceptance of industrial and vocational work, the difference between Saudi youths and their fathers in perceptions of this kind of work and the relationship between socio-cultural and economic factors and acceptance of industrial and vocational work in Saudi Arabia's South Province. Data collection for the study was carried out using two methods: questionnaire, and semi-structured interview. A sample of 200 final year secondary school students and 200 fathers of the secondary school students, representing heads of households, in the Asir province, responded to self-administered questionnaires. A sample of 30 interviewees was selected, representing three groups: secondary school head teachers, directors and administrators of some government and educational sectors, and managers of private sector companies and factories providing industrial and vocational work in Asir Province Descriptive statistics are presented regarding the major characteristics occupational background and experience of the respondents, and their involvement in industrial and vocational work. Statistical tests were used to analyse the factors influencing Saudi nationals' involvement in industrial and vocational sectors and the difference between students and fathers in relation to this issue. The interviews provide complementary qualitative data which shed further light on the issues raised by the questionnaire responses. The main findings of the study were that industrial and vocational work and manual work are generally accorded low acceptance, status, and social value in Saudi society. Consequently, the majority of respondents and their families showed very negative attitudes towards vocational and industrial work and greater preference for other occupations, especially clerical work, the military, teaching, medicine, and so on. The results, also, revealed that no there is great difference between students and fathers in their acceptance of involvement in I&V sectors. The most influential factors behind these results were: the low social value and status given to industrial and vocational work; the influence of family, tribe, relatives and personal relationships upon Saudi nationals in relation to their education and their choice of work, especially related to the I&V sector; the gap between general education and I&V education, training and work; the prevailing view that governmental posts offer the best kind of work; dependence on foreign labour; and Saudi nationals lack of awareness about future job opportunities in the private sectors and the situation of the labour market generally. The study concludes with recommendations which, it is hoped, would contribute to improve the attitudes of Saudi nationals towards industrial and vocational sectors. Suggestions are also made for further research to address the issue of acceptance of industrial and vocational work and related influencing factors.