False Saudization ‘hurting economy’
Specialists said the Ministry of Labor should focus on the quality of employed Saudis and not on their numbers
Many private companies are achieving their Saudization quotas through the so-called false employment of Saudis that experts say is damaging the local economy, Al-Riyadh daily reported.
The Ministry of Labor has allowed companies to recruit expatriates if they have achieved their Saudization quotas, but this has encouraged some businesses to employ nationals to sit at home in exchange for a minimal salary.
Abdulrahman Saleh, a young Saudi, said he approached a private company for a job and was surprised when the manager asked him whether he wanted a real job or a Saudization job.
The company signed a contract with him for a 3,000 Saudi riyals monthly salary but asked him to stay at home for only SR1,500 a month.
Specialists said the Ministry of Labor should focus on the quality of employed Saudis and not on the number.
Businessman Dawood Al-Esaimi said following Saudization rules would not solve the unemployment problems young Saudis face.
He believed the Hafiz unemployment assistance program and Nitaqat Saudization scheme should be combined to better train Saudis to take up jobs.
"Private companies seek profitability and need qualified employees in certain jobs," he said.
The current employment procedures and requirements, he said, are only a temporary solution and unemployment problems would soon resurface.
He said: “Businesses are only employing Saudis to achieve their quotas and as such are not interested in training or qualifying these Saudis.
“Give me a suitable replacement that has the necessary qualification and experience and I will stop recruiting expatriates.”
Human resources consultant Bandar Al-Dhabaan said Ministry of Labor programs do not differentiate between local economic and social conditions.
"Companies in areas like Najran and Tabuk are not yet fully developed and cannot be asked to meet the same Saudization quotas and conditions as companies in Riyadh or the Eastern Province," he said.
The Kingdom’s different regions are diverse in terms of population figures, age brackets, education and qualifications, he said.
He noted false Saudization was hurting those who were seriously looking for jobs as well as the local economy.
Al-Dhabaan believes the Ministry of Labor should ask companies what type of Saudis they have employed instead of how many.
"How can anyone believe that there are thousands of Saudi women employed in the construction and contracting sector when Saudi men cannot find jobs in these industries?" he said.
He pointed out the number of Saudis in the private sector amount to 1.26 million employees out of a total 8.7 million.
He said he wondered how many of these were in leading high-level jobs. "The Ministry of Labor counts a special needs employee as four Saudis toward the Saudization quota, so why doesn’t the ministry count a Saudi manager or CEO as five or 10 Saudis to encourage businesses to promote Saudis to high level jobs?" he asked.
He pointed out the large number of regulations from different government bodies are putting pressure on businessmen and may cause businesses to migrate.
"We may see the day when Saudi companies have their headquarters in a Gulf country to benefit from the facilities offered in that country," he said.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.