Aug 23 2011
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Nitaqat a boon for Saudi job seekers
DAMMAM: As companies race to meet Saudization targets before they incur penalties, young Saudis find themselves in great demand in the job market.
The Labor Ministry's Nitaqat program outlines different Saudization targets for various business sectors. Companies are ranked by different color bands depending on the number of Saudis they have on their payrolls. Penalty assessment begins next month.
Jarallah Mohammad Al-Asiri is among the young Saudis being wooed by a number of companies. "I am 26 years old and come from a family of decent means. I am the eldest of four brothers and one sister. My father teaches social sciences at a government-run secondary school. I completed my graduation four years ago from King Faisal University (now Dammam University). I did a nine-month management diploma from Malaysia."
For the last two years, Al-Asiri has been struggling to get a proper job. "I applied at various companies in and around the Eastern Province. I also posted my CV on various job sites in hopes of getting a good job. Last year I got three calls for interviews from three good companies, including a multinational based in Jubail, but at each place I could not land the job for one reason or another."
Al-Asiri says he needs to work to supplement his father's income and to become independent. "Some two months ago my fortunes seemed to turn in a big way. I believe it is a direct result of the new Nitaqat program. You wouldn't believe it: I am getting calls from all those companies to which I applied two or maybe three years ago. It seems the HR departments of these companies keep all the CVs, and now they are dusting them off. Some of the companies that are calling me and sending e-mails are not even known to me. I am told that the CVs that I had uploaded on different job websites are still up there, and that is where all these companies are getting my details from."
The six companies that have approached Al-Asiri are desperate to hire him. "They are promising me the moon. Yes, I am pleasantly surprised. Every day at iftar time my father jokes with me, 'So what is the latest offer and from whom?' We all make merry, and my sister's jaw drops when I tell her about the pay package. 'Masha' Allah,' she screams excitedly."
Al-Asiri is not alone. Twenty-one-year-old graphic designer Jumana Y. Al-Nuami is also swamped with job offers. In the pre-Nitaqat days, she would call up many companies and would fax them her details. "They would never respond, and those who did would say they have no room for women," she says. "Things have now changed dramatically. Many companies are creating separate office space for women. There are many women job aspirants in the market, but the culture of not employing women deterred private sector companies from hiring us."
She said women are being offered fabulous salaries. "Right now the focus is on hiring as many Saudis as you can, men and women. Companies are running out of time; they want to improve their Nitaqat status. Nobody wants to be in the red category for the fear of being closed or penalized. Previously, the first question they would ask would be about experience. Now they don't care. 'We will train you,' they say."
Al-Nuami says the company that she has joined in Alkhobar has hired nine women in the last three weeks. "Our section is brand new, and you can actually smell fresh paint. The job profile is also not stated clearly. I guess with time we all will know what is exactly expected of us. But yes, Nitaqat has changed the job market scenario for Saudis. Before, we would chase employers. Now the employers are chasing us. The roles have been reversed."
© Arab News 2011
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