Oct 12 2011
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Advantage for disabled Saudis as companies go on hiring spree
The system requires companies to increase the rate of Saudi employees and warns of punitive measures if they fail to do so.
The Saudi government encourages the recruitment of handicapped employees by equaling the recruitment of one disabled Saudi to hiring three able-bodied Saudis. As a result, most companies find hiring handicapped Saudis a good way to achieve Saudization targets in a short span.
"Since the launch of the Nitaqat program, we are receiving large numbers of requests from companies that are looking to hire handicapped people. We arranged several meetings with these companies to make sure that the offers were suitable for the handicapped employees," she said.
The JCCI teaches companies how to deal with handicapped employees. "There are many skills that are unknown to employers as well as employees," said Natto.
According to Natto, office work that doesn't require movement is mostly available for handicapped. They include such positions as graphic designer, accountant, secretary and data entry operator.
"Such job opportunities are considered the most suitable for the disabled, except for the visually impaired. We try to ensure that handicapped employees receive a salary of between SR4,000 and SR5,000," she said.
Natto added, "The Ministry of Labor will soon issue a decision to bring contracts between handicapped employees and companies under the JCCI umbrella. This step will ensure the handicapped employees' rights, as we will make sure that all requirements are applied."
Dr. Abdullah Al-Dukhail, assistant secretary-general of the Disabled Children's Association, said his association also receive many calls from companies looking to hire disabled Saudis. "Some companies ask for 20 employees, while others ask for three or five employees," he said. "Most companies are looking to hire male staff, as handicapped women generally prefer to work in a secluded environment."
According to Al-Dukhail, the association arranged several forums between the handicapped and private companies. "We will have a forum next week, which more than 100 companies will attend. Such forums facilitate contact between handicapped people and employers," said Al-Dukhail.
Al-Dukhail confirmed that after the Nitaqat program was launched, large numbers of companies were looking to hire disabled Saudis and were offering good salaries. He said most companies offered salaries ranging from SR5,000 to SR8,000 to handicapped employees.
Al-Dukhail is of the view that the companies were offering jobs to the disabled not just to take advantage of the Saudization incentives, but also to help society as part of corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Majed Asiri, a Saudi who cannot walk, studied business administration at King Abdulaziz University but was unable to find any job opportunity because of his disability. "In the past, I was looking for a job, but with no result. I found only a job opportunity in a fast food company with a salary of SR2,000, which I refused," he said.
Asiri said after the launch of the Nitaqat, the situation has changed. "I heard that a construction firm was looking for a Saudi accountant. I immediately applied and was accepted two weeks later."
© Arab News 2011
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