(MENAFN - Arab News) Some Saudi nationals are giving up their public sector jobs in search of challenging opportunities and lucrative salaries in major companies.
They claim that bureaucratic hurdles and lack of enough support for innovative ideas in government jobs prevent them from achieving their career ambitions.
Government jobs also do not offer performance-base incentives and good training opportunities, they added.
These claims emerged as the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Services revealed that around 12,000 Saudi employees quit their government jobs in 2010 to join the private sector.
The report also contradicts the common perception that Saudi nationals prefer working in the public sector because it is perceived to be safer as jobs are secure until retirement.
Amal Shira, a human resources director at Schindler Group, says the government sector should improve its management techniques and work ethics. "Government departments need to get out of their comfort zone," she quipped.
The automatic promotion mechanism in the public sector also breeds inefficiency, she charged.
"The staff are sure about their regular promotions with slight pay increases, whether they work or not," she claimed.
"Employees know their positions and salaries at each stage of their career. So they don't work hard," said Shira.
"Lazy employees can keep their jobs in the public sector because the level of service offered to customers is never monitored properly. In contrast, customers are the main concern for private companies. Hence they focus on developing staff skills."
But she said the private sector provides a golden opportunity for talented employees to set their goals, face challenges, boost skills and widen their knowledge.
"Private companies organize training courses and workshops to develop staff skills. But such events are rare in the public sector and even if a government department conducts a training course, relatives and close friends of managers are given priority," she alleged.
Some Saudi nationals told Arab News that they prefer working in the private sector even if there is a chance to earn higher salaries in public service careers.
Abdullah Al-Saad, a former Education Ministry employee, moved to a telecommunications company three years ago in search of challenging opportunities. He holds a key executive position in the company now, heading a department.
He said he would never have achieved his career goals if he had stayed in the government sector.
"I quit my job at the ministry because I was stagnating as an employee, who simply implemented the directives from superior officers. I felt that such routine work would never improve my skills," he said.
"I also suffered from bureaucratic hurdles. For example, I would never be able to create a project and get a budget approved for it. But my private company encourages innovation and helps me move forward."
Al-Saad also said that many of his former colleagues initially advised him against quitting his government job.
The only positive factor in the government sector is job security, he acknowledged.
"The private sector, however, is more professional and it helps the employees to boost their skills by way of many training programs."
Suaad B., who currently works for a private hospital, left her government job three years ago, tempted by an attractive pay package.
She said the private sector job gave her a lot of opportunities to develop her skills. She has also benefited from various training courses.
As an officer at a government hospital, she was earning SR4,390 per month. But the young graduate grabbed the opportunity when a private hospital lured her with a salary of SR7,000.
"In addition to the sharp pay hike, I also enjoyed a better work environment," she said.
"I have also taken part four training courses since I joined the private hospital," she said. "They evaluated me and assigned me to several training courses on computer programming and data management."
Fahad Bukhari, a Saudi national, moved from a private company to the government sector, looking for a safe job.
But he soon regretted his decision when he started facing several hurdles in his career.
"I joined an insurance company after graduation. They gave me a salary of SR6,000 plus some bonuses, based on profits. When I received an opportunity to work in the government sector, I immediately moved because I was looking for a secure job," he said.
"In the government sector, I got SR7,000, but there were no rewards, no promotions and benefits, no housing and transportation allowances," he lamented,
"How can I work on this salary, without any additional incentives? I do not earn enough to start a family," he said.
"Prices are rising but public sector salaries do not go up to match the inflation," he claimed.