May 21 2012
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Experts debate MoL's plan to blacklist Saudis
The Hafiz program pays unemployed Saudis SR2,000 a month for up to 12 months but after concerns by companies that they may be forced to hire unmotivated workers, the Ministry of Labor announced it will start blacklisting workers who miss job interviews or training programs. Some economists have welcomed the move while others have criticized it as ill-advised.
In the opinion of economist Maqbool Al-Ghamdi, such a blacklist should be encouraged because it will give a more accurate picture of the number of unemployed Saudis.
"A large number of so-called job seekers have purposely opted to remain unemployed and live a lazy life.
They claim the jobs they have been offered entail long hours or do not pay enough. But if they are serious, then why don't they sign up for the numerous training courses offered by the Hafiz program?" asked Al-Ghamdi.
However, economist Abdul Malik Al-Fehaid has a different opinion. He criticized the idea of a blacklist and said the ministry often finds jobs that are not commensurate with the expectations of job seekers and do not offer a reasonable pay.
"Most of the jobs offered to the unemployed are security guard or salesmen jobs that only pay between SR2,500 to SR3,000.
On what basis has the ministry reached the conclusion that young job seekers are not committed to availing serious opportunities? Has the ministry asked itself whether the jobs they offer can realistically support citizens?" asked Al-Fehaid who added that a large number of Saudis face trouble gaining meaningful employment because most HR directors are expatriates.
According to Al-Fehaid, several steps should be taken before a blacklist is approved, the first of which should be to set a minimum wage between SR4,000 to SR5,000 and then the number of work hours should be determined and enforced.
"Over 80 percent of our graduates are jobless while the ministry boasts about Saudizing a large number of jobs through the Nitaqat program. But the only thing that has increased is fake Saudization of jobs."
Economist Faris Al-Qarni stressed the importance of pinpointing the main problems of the labor market and measuring the results of success on the ground and not through statistics. Al-Qarni suggested that the Ministry of Labor should blacklist employers and sponsors who recruit foreign workers and give them the freedom to work anywhere provided they pay them a certain amount of money every month.
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