Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Changing Face of Saudi Job Market

380,000 jobs in 10 months for Saudis thanks to Nitaqat

JEDDAH - Since its implementation 10 months ago, the Nitaqat Program has created 380,000 job opportunities in the private sector, said Adel Fakieh, Minister of Labor, Saturday during a dialogue session at Okaz headquarters. 

"This figure is 20 times what had been previously achieved over the past five years before Nitaqat was introduced," he said.

The minister also announced that a new program called "Jahiz" or "Ready" will be launched and will create job opportunities for Saudi students who have just finished their scholarship programs abroad and returned home.

Speaking to an audience of businessmen, intellectuals and media persons, Fakieh said the Nitaqat Program does not aim to cause harm to any private sector company or business. The program encourages the private sector to hire Saudis and categorizes companies into four zones: Excellent, green, yellow, and red, he explained.

Companies in the excellent and green zones will be rewarded while those in the red zone will be dealt with strictly and will be required to meet Saudization quota, he added. Companies in the yellow zone will be given a grace period to meet the required percentage. 

299,000 Saudis join civil service

More than 299,000 Saudi men and women have joined the civil service during 2012 as a result of new employment programs introduced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. The figure was announced during the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Saudization: 43% of private sector firms face closure

Khalid Maqbool and Abdullah Al-Husoon

JEDDAH -- Over 40 percent of private sector companies might be shut down if they fail to meet their Saudization targets, Adel Fakeih, Minister of Labor, has said.

Big establishments are expected to achieve 30 to 35 percent Saudization while smaller businesses are likely to achieve seven to 10 percent, Fakieh said during a dialogue session at Okaz headquarters here recently.

"When they (the establishments) do this, they will be categorized as green companies, enabling them to take advantage of the ministry's services," he said.

Commenting on a new program to create job opportunities for newly-graduated scholarship students, Fakieh said the initiative will allow graduates to register their personal information and qualifications before graduation so that employers can study their data and contact them.

Alateeq: Accelerate Saudization process in senior positions
Intensifying Saudization, boosting cooperation between the public and private sectors, and ending bureaucratic delays are the three major steps that should be taken within the coming two decades, according to Abdullah Alateeq, CEO of Watan Pac. With Watan Pac involved in implementing the Ministry of Labor's intensive Saudization plan, Alateeq told Diana Al-Jassem of Arab News that a joint action by Saudi companies to bring together both old and new generations in tackling the problem of unemployment, checking rising prices and encouraging SMEs in a major effort to boost the economy. Rapid change

What changes would make a major impact on the lives of Saudis in the coming 20 years?

Unemployment: We need to be more concerned with major issues like finding employment for our new generations. We have to prepare the Saudi market for receiving fresh Saudi graduates. About 200,000 Saudi students are expected to enter the job market in the next few years. I expect the Kingdom to work harder than ever for bringing unemployment to zero level. The recent statistics showed the unemployment figure at about 1.7 million in the Kingdom. We want Saudis to work in prestigious and highly skilled positions rather than in lower levels. What we have seen in the Kingdom is that the Saudization plan tends to employ Saudis in lower positions.

Industrial boom: I believe that completing the pending industrial projects will lead the country to an industrial boom, thus contributing to a positive economic movement. Budget will also have a positive impact on local markets, especially if we motivate local investment projects. In addition, huge infrastructure projects and industrial cities will help in developing trade and the economy overall.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Six-month work ban applies evenly to men and women

Friday 7 September 2012

JEDDAH: The National Committee of Workers and businessmen have agreed on providing two-day weekly off for employees in the private sector, said Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, head of the team of businessmen that attended a social dialogue forum on the issue.

"A closed-door meeting of representatives from the three parties have agreed that the weekly off in the private sector would be two days and but did not decide the days of the weekend," said Al-Zamil, who is a prominent businessman and industrialist.

There were proposals to make Friday and Saturday weekly holidays for the benefit of businesses having contacts with international companies and agencies. Al-Zamil expressed his hope that an agreement would be reached on bringing down weekly working hours to 40, a demand that was made to attract Saudi workers to private firms. However, some businessmen have suggested making it 45 hours.

"Most members of our team have agreed to a one-shift duty with work starting at 10 a.m. and exempting Makkah and Madinah from limiting working hours," Al-Eqtisadaih business daily quoted Al-Zamil as saying.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Labor and King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue on working hours has revealed that shortening working hours in the private sector would encourage citizens to work in that sector.

The study, which covered 3,662 respondents from across the Kingdom, shows that the long working hours is the main reason for the reluctance of young Saudis to take up offers in the private sector. A majority of participants in the study did not support Saturday to be one of the proposed two-day weekend, although they did support a two-day weekend to make it more attractive for Saudis to work in the private sector.
Employment issues and unemployment problems are the main concerns of 49 percent of Saudi youth who took part in the survey. Housing and rent issues came second, concerning 32 percent of participants. 

Ibrahim Al-Moaiqali, director general of the Human Resource Development Fund, said Wednesday's dialogue did not reach any consensus on how to confront the challenges facing the private sector and reach solutions that would make the job market more attractive to Saudis.

He emphasized the need for taking a balanced decision to protect workers' rights as well as to boost the national economy. "The decisions should not affect the national economy and the Kingdom's businesses. Private sector investments are a key factor to accelerate economic growth," he added. He said an agreement on weekly off days and weekly working hours would solve one of the major obstacle facing Saudi workers.

Ahmed Al-Humaidan, secretary-general of the dialogue forum and undersecretary at the Labor Ministry, said the ministry has no plan to impose its decision on the private sector. "We organized this forum to reach a consensus on the issue," he pointed out.

He said the Council of Saudi Chambers, the National Committee of Workers and the Labor Ministry should work together as partners to achieve job market stability and accelerate economic and social development.
The dialogue forum discussed four important papers on the effect of working hours on institutions; unification of working hours in the public and private sectors; daily working hours in the wholesale and retail trade; and distribution of daily working hours.
© Arab News 2012