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Why Saudi Arabia will be the best place to live and work for engineers

This is how construction companies in Saudi Arabia are reworking people strategies to attract top engineering talent

Saudi Arabia is working to draw top engineering talent.
Middle East Architect
Saudi Arabia is working to draw top engineering talent.

The need to identify and source future talent across the GCC’s construction sector is a touch point made ever more critical in light of the region’s multi-trillion dollar project pipeline, and governments across the region, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE – through their respective Saudisation and Emiratisation efforts – desire to nurture talent and equip future generations with the requisite skills to thrive in the modern economy.

As one of the GCC’s largest employers, the construction sector is not disconnected from such efforts.

Take UK-headquartered construction consultancy Atkins, which recently launched its two-year graduate programme designed to create jobs in the kingdom. Rick Hancock, Atkins’ country director, told Construction Week that eight Saudi Arabian citizens had, as of April this year, joined the programme.

Atkins, Faithful+Gould, and Atkins Acuity – all members of the Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group – will welcome their first batch of programme recruits to the scheme in September this year.

Indeed, the development programme was, in part, created to strengthen the firm’s commitment to Saudisation – the kingdom’s ongoing nation-building efforts to secure the future growth of its youth.

Hancock said: “The programme provides real opportunities to work with and learn from the best in industry, while also making sure we prepare a strong pipeline of future talent to help meet our long-term workforce needs.”

This drive towards securing future talent in the firm’s ranks comes as its work on megaprojects such as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) and the Diriyah Gate development continues.

Speaking to Construction Week last month, Atkins’ managing director for engineering, design, and project management in the Middle East and Africa, Adrian Lindon, revealed plans to double the headcount of its recently opened office in Riyadh by year-end.

Such increases are also being driven by various gigaprojects in the kingdom, such as Qiddiya, Neom, Amaala, and The Red Sea Project.

It comes as little surprise that firms like Atkins are doubling down on their efforts to nurture future talent. 

According to data from intelligence platform ProTenders, construction projects worth  $1.1tn (SAR4.2tn) are at various stages of development in the kingdom, with firms such as state-owned Saudi Aramco and contractors like Saudi Binladin Group and India’s Larsen & Toubro working on major schemes under the country’s Vision 2030 push. 

Moreover, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (Rics) most recent Middle East Construction and Infrastructure Survey published for Q2 2019 revealed the growing number of construction projects in Saudi Arabia will lead to the creation of jobs for engineers in the kingdom during 2019-20, despite building companies facing “subdued” regional activity in Q1 2019.

With this in mind, the need to source and retain top-tier talent will only grow more critical as such projects ramp up. This is supported by the generous remuneration packages the kingdom’s employers typically offer too.

More generally, however, the kingdom is becoming a more attractive proposition as a place for foreign talent to live and work, making the fight for future talent a somewhat easier endeavour.

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019