Better Jobs Tomorrow: The Appeal and Increasing Relevance of Alternative Credentials in Saudi Arabia

Number: 66
Mark C. Thompson and Hanaa Almoaibed

With an increased interest in professional qualifications among young nationals in Saudi Arabia, this Dirasat asks how perceptions of a ‘good’ job are evolving through the prism of attitudes towards traditional qualifications and alternative credentials. The paper highlights the importance of contextualizing the qualifications landscape to better understand their role. It also investigates the shifting role of certification globally and in Saudi Arabia specifically, examining the supply and demand of traditional and alternative credentials within the Saudi context. It seeks to answer the question: Is the uptake of new qualifications a result of individual ambitions or is it driven by market demand, and are the two mutually exclusive? The paper also considers whether traditional academic degrees might become obsolete, to be replaced with alternative credentials that focus on specific skill sets that in turn could assist in securing better jobs. On the other hand, are the skills gained via alternative credentials in demand, that is do they reflect economic developments and the shifting nature of the Saudi labor market? To further explore the increased pursuit of alternative credentials, we address three main research questions: What is the status of credentials in Saudi Arabia?; what is driving the growth in alternative credentials?; and what is the role of alternative credentials in shaping youth career readiness?