Saudi Arabia to introduce skills assessment for labor workers

Ministry’s Professional Verification program will start coming into force in July

  
image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi officials count ballots at a polling station at Prince Salman center in Riyadh .

image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi officials count ballots at a polling station at Prince Salman center in Riyadh .

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s skilled workers are to be assessed to ensure they are qualified for their jobs.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) announced the launch of the “Professional Verification” program on Sunday, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.

The minister said on his official Twitter account: “Today (Sunday) we launched the Professional Verification program, to ensure the competence of skilled workers in the Saudi labor market.”

The program aims to verify that all skilled workers in Saudi Arabia have the required skills to perform the occupation they were recruited for, and will include practical and theoretical examinations in the workers’ specialized fields. It will target more than 1,000 professions belonging to 23 fields as per the Saudi Standard Classification of Occupations.

The program, which starts in July, seeks to improve the quality of skilled workers in the Saudi labor market, enhance their productivity, improve the services they provide and reduce the influx of unqualified workers.

The program will examine all skilled workers in their home country before their arrival in the Kingdom, in cooperation with selected international examination centers. It will also examine existing skilled workers in the Kingdom.

HRSD is urging all establishments to begin the verification process by registering on the program’s website — https://svp.qiwa.sa/ — for all their skilled workers, as the verification will gradually be enforced this summer.

Centers interested in becoming licensed to conduct the program’s examination are advised to register in the same link.

Work visas for the targeted jobs will be linked to the skilled workers passing the examination in their home country and will be enforced on a gradual basis in accordance with a roll-out plan developed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the countries sending labor to the Kingdom. This falls under the ministry’s “Professional Accreditation” system.

The new program has been widely welcomed.

HIGHLIGHT

HRSD is urging all establishments to begin the verification process by registering on the program’s website — https://svp.qiwa.sa/ — for all their skilled workers, as the verification will gradually be enforced this summer.

Ali M. Alhazmi, a member of the Association of Financial Professional , said the professional verification decision is a long awaited one and will have a positive impact on the labor market.

The labor visa was one of the most expensive on the black market because anyone who holds this visa can work in any profession. The professional verification program will prevent unskilled workers from entering the country because they have harmed the national economy. The workers benefited from the country’s concessions or privileges but did not add anything to the national economy, he said.

Osama Alshammari, a member of the Human Resources Committee at the Riyadh Chamber, said the decision will allow only professional workers to pass the exam and meet the standards of their professions in the labor market. Only professional workers can receive a national professional license to practice their profession.

He said that the decision might create job opportunities in the private sector because some workers might not pass the professional exam.

“The initiative aims to establish a national committee to support technical professions and also to set standards and regulations for governance. The regulations will cover the requirements for issuing licenses to professional workers after they have passed the professional verification exam so that they can practice their professions. This will apply to trainers as well,” he said.

Alshammari added that the program will give Saudi technical professional workers a chance to find jobs in small and medium enterprises such as auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers and general maintenance.

Mohammed Al-Sudais, CEO of Carsdees car rentals, said that it is likely that work quality and efficiency will increase.

Al-Sudais, with more than 20 years’ experience in the private sector, encouraged young Saudis looking for appropriate job opportunities to prepare themselves by joining the professional centers. “These professional centers help in the development of the skills and endogenous capacity, in order to overcome the difficulties and challenges of work and to properly meet the needs of the labor market,” he said.

“The professional vetting process can ensure the quality of the labor market by empowering those who are experienced and specialized, as well as protecting them,” he added.

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