Oct 20 2011
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Saudi Arabia: 3m expats to be sent out gradually
JEDDAH: Nearly three million expatriate workers will have to leave the Kingdom in the next few years as the Labor Ministry has put a 20 percent ceiling on the country's guest workers.
The ceiling has been set to help find jobs for Saudis andprotect the country's demographic structure.
"The maximum number of long-term expatriate workers in theKingdom should not exceed 20 percent of the Saudi population," Al-Eqtisadiahbusiness daily reported Thursday, quoting the Labor Ministry.
"According to the new plan, about 2.9 million expatriateworkers would have to leave the Kingdom," the paper said. The ministry'sstatement came after a meeting of GCC labor ministers decided to step up theircampaign to replace expatriates with qualified GCC nationals.
Hesham Rowaihy, a management consultant, emphasized the needfor a national succession plan that would oversee a smooth transition of jobsfrom expatriates to Saudis.
"We need a national succession plan driven by theprivate sector with the support of the Labor Ministry and other governmententities. This will enable the ministry to gradually replace expatriate workerswith Saudis," Rowaihy said, adding, "We should strengthen our education andtraining system in order to supplant the guest workers."
Every company should have a succession plan to replaceexpatriates with Saudis, he said. "Elevation of the education system isessential to produce qualified Saudis capable of taking up importantpositions."
Rowaihy believed that the new plan would not affectconstruction projects that employ thousands of low-paid temporary workers.
The ministry's expat ceiling plan was announced during theAbu Dhabi meeting. "The plan targets long-term workers and exempts those whoare employed temporarily to carry out certain projects," a ministry officialsaid.
During the meeting, Deputy Labor Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidangave a presentation on the Kingdom's recruitment policy. "We allow recruitmentof foreign workers after studying actual requirement of a company, includingits project size and economic activities."
Al-Humaidan said the ministry differentiates between foreignworkers who leave the Kingdom after completing certain projects and those whostay long in the Kingdom for various business activities. "Here's the need fora ceiling for long-term workers," he added.
© Arab News 2011
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