AEC focusing on national empowerment
Company has 80% Saudi national workforce, developed education programmes for Saudi youth
Saudi Arabian diversified technology company, Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) is focusing on employing and educating Saudi nationals to help develop the rapidly expanding IT industry in the Kingdom.
"If you look at the composition of AEC employees, you are looking at about 80% Saudi nationals. That is not typical in Saudi or in the GCC where you see a large expatriate workforce. AEC has been able to recruit nationals even in our manufacturing facilities, that is looked at very positively by the government because Saudi is really getting into many problems as it relates to unemployment," said Dr Khaled H Biyari, senior vice president and general manager of AEC.
Currently approximately 60% of the Saudi population is under 18 years old and so creating jobs is a priority for Saudi companies.
"AEC is looked at as an example of how to employ Saudi nationals. The secret is our HR policies primarily, to recruit youngsters, put them in the right environment, empower them, challenge their minds at the end of the day they are very productive. It is not to say we don't want expatriates, but we sincerely believe it is part of our social responsibility to create jobs," said Dr Biyari.
AEC also works very closely universities and has summer programmes, where computer science, engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering students visit AEC and work in the company.
"We also have co-op programmes where students come for about 8 months, do real work and then go back to complete their studies and that has been a very good recruiting ground for us as we can screen them when they are with us. Many end up as employees of AEC," said Dr Biyari.
AEC currently has more than 1100 employees, which has expanded from 300 to 400 employees since 2005-6 due to rapid growth in the IT industry in Saudi Arabia in recent years.
"I would expect even bigger growth in the years to come fuelled primarily by two things, first, population growth in Saudi is 3% to 3.5% per annum which is very high and creates a lot of demand for IT and IT services, second, the government is embarking on a major e-government initiative and what is taking place is lots of the government organisations are setting up their infrastructure both on the network side and the infrastructure side to be able to cater to those e-government services and the government is putting lots of money into that, so we expect major growth in the Kingdom," said Dr Biyari.