Job ad for 30 women train drivers in Saudi Arabia gets 28,000 applicants

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A job advert to recruit 30 female train drivers in Saudi Arabia has attracted 28,000 applicants, highlighting the scale of demand as the kingdom opens up more opportunities to women.

Spanish railway operator Renfe said on Wednesday an online assessment of academic background and English language skills had helped it to reduce the number of candidates by around a half, and it would work through the rest by mid-March.

The 30 selected women will drive bullet trains between the cities of Mecca and Medina after a year of paid training.

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Renfe, which said it was keen to create opportunities for women in its local business, currently employs 80 men to drive its trains in Saudi Arabia, and has 50 more under instruction.

Job opportunities for Saudi women have until recently been limited to roles such as teachers and medical workers, as they had to observe strict gender segregation rules. Women were not allowed to drive in the Kingdom until 2018.

Female participation in the workforce has nearly doubled in the last five years to 33 percent amid a drive by the Saudi crown price to open up the kingdom and diversify the economy, and women are now taking up jobs once restricted to men and migrant workers.

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