Is it About Time for Expats Workers to Give Way to Saudis?

Expat workers in KSA, are you willing to give way? There are several efforts that are being made to improve the income levels of the Saudi nationals. One of the strategies is by creating more employment opportunities and better salaries for the nationals in the private sector. Sadly, the Kingdom seems to have very few qualified young men and women for the specialist and technical jobs. This means that there are very few skilled workers in Saudi. There over 2.6 million jobs that require some high level of skills and all the positions are currently held by foreign workers. According to an article written by Dr. Ehsan Buhaliqa:

The only way to improve the income of Saudi men and women is by creating better opportunities for jobs in the private sector that offer good salaries. Apparently, we seem to have failed in qualifying young Saudi men and women to hold technical and specialist positions; in other words, positions that require skilled workers. We have at least 2.6 million jobs that need highly-qualified Saudis. These positions are currently held by non-Saudis.

Saudization is a process that aims at achieving this, but there are some people who oppose this move. They seem to be hesitant to replace the expat workers with the Saudis. It would be good for such companies to train Saudis for such positions so that they can replace the expats. The relevant authorities should join forces and ensure that there is an increase in the overall percentage of the Saudis holding skilled positions. This is a challenge that should be taken up by the Commission for Job Generation and Anti-unemployment.

Some believe that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development can accomplish this task alone and that there was no need to set up such a commission. Personally speaking, I believe it was important to set up the commission in order to unite the efforts of all concerned ministries and human resource development agencies. Currently, Saudi youth are trained well but are not given good jobs where they can put what they have learned into practice. The labor market continues to suffer from unemployment, a high percentage of expatriate recruitment, low productivity and poor utilization of local human resources.

There are some people who hold the thought that this is an easy task that can be achieved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and there was need to set up a commission. However, there is a great need to have the commission in place since it will be able to bring in all the relevant ministries together. The young people in the Kingdom have the relevant skills, but are not accorded the opportunities. There is a high rate of unemployment in the nationals, while the percentages of the expat recruitment is significantly high.

The relevant agencies should ensure that the young people are getting lucrative positions. This will trigger the ambition to succeed among the young generation.

In recent studies, it was established that there are over 660,000 Saudis without employment. There are 7 million expat workers, compared to about 4 million nationals that are employed.  The job seekers in Saudi are equal to 12.1% of the workforce. There should be solutions to create work for the unemployed locals. The best way is for the expats to make way for the Saudis since the economy cannot sustain more job creation.

In fact, the replacement policy is effective and was suggested over 20 years ago but has not been applied efficiently. The policy was introduced in the 1990s according to a decision made by the Council of Ministers. It focuses on gradually replacing expats with Saudis and not waiting for an expatriate worker to retire or leave a job. However, the policy has not been put into practice efficiently over the past 20 years. What are we going to do to reduce unemployment and when are we going to implement the replacement policy?

Surprisingly, the replacement policy was recommended 2 decades ago, but has not been implemented successfully. In the 1990s the Council of Ministers made the decision to replace the expats with locals. Sadly, 20 years later, the policy has not come into full effect. How will the rate of unemployment be reduced and when will the replacement policy be implemented?

With the new commission in place, they should ensure that the replaced policy is fulfilled and accord the young Saudis better employment opportunities. This will go a long way in boosting the economy of the Kingdom.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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