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Ministry, Shoura discuss strategy to create jobs

13 October 2011
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and the Shoura Council discussed on Wednesday a strategic plan to find more job opportunities for Saudis in the private sector.

Deputy Minister of Labor Mufrej Al-Haqabani met with a group of Shoura Council members headed by Abdulrahman Ahmed Hejan, head of the council's committee on human resources, to chalk out future plans to resolve various problems, including the government's Saudization program in the private sector.

According to an official from the Shoura Council, the two parties discussed a number of issues related to the Ministry of Labor's annual report. "The matters discussed will be taken up at a subsequent regular meeting of the council where the annual report would be officially tabled," he added.

The deputy minister outlined the progress of the program and the difficulties in finding jobs for locals in the private sector. It was observed that the private sector has been creating jobs, but they do not go to Saudis.

Recently, under the Nitaqat program the government categorized companies into four groups ("excellent," "green," "yellow" or "red") based on whether they employ enough Saudi nationals to comply with established quotas.

Following a grace period, the scheme will impose severe penalties on violators and offer incentives and rewards to those firms meeting their quota. The government's goal is to create 1.12 million new jobs for Saudi nationals by 2014, or 92 percent of all new jobs created, as set out in the current development plan.

The previous Saudization quota system required all sectors to have a blanket nationalization rate of 30 percent -- although only a third of that was achieved.

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The new system applies 205 categories of quotas that vary based on the line of work and size of the company. In many cases, companies achieving more than 30 percent nationalization would be classified as "excellent".

The government has imposed a six-year cap on residency visas for expatriate workers if their employers fail to meet quotas.

Companies falling in the "red" category are barred from renewing the work visas of their expatriate staff entirely, while "green" companies are entitled to, for the first time, recruit foreign workers freely from the other two categories and transfer their sponsorship visas without their current employer's consent.

In a separate session on Wednesday, Ahmad Al-Hakami, deputy minister of planning and economy, had discussions with Mohammed Amin Al-Jafri, chairman of the committee on economic affairs and energy, on various elements of the ministry's annual performance report.

© Arab News 2011

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