We must put an end to fake Saudization

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The Kingdom has Saudized many jobs to reduce unemployment, which has hit 12.8 percent, amounting to 800,000 Saudis. The number of expatriate workers has reached 11 million, according to the General Statistics Authority 2016 report. Having this large number of expatriate workers while we have such a high unemployment rate is a strange thing. The Ministry of Labor launched the Nitaqat program requiring companies to meet a certain Saudization percentage in terms of their workforce. Companies that meet the required percentage get various benefits.

Over time, companies began circumventing the regulations surrounding the Nitaqat program. Many companies hired Saudis and paid them small salaries for what in effect were fake jobs. These Saudis did not carry out any tasks and did not even report to work. The World Bank criticized the Nitaqat program because it left companies no choice but to give Saudis fake jobs and “hire” them just to meet the requirements of Saudization. In its report, the World Bank said that only 10 percent of real job opportunities were given to Saudis; in other words, around 20,000 jobs out of 200,000 a year were provided to Saudis by the private sector. The rest were fake jobs.

We have to admit that we have failed to Saudize several sectors, according to former Labor Minister Mufarrij Al-Haqbani. He said the ministry failed in Saudizing some sectors because of the poor partnership and collaboration with other government agencies. Although the ministry issued the decision to Saudize taxicabs 10 years ago, it has still not succeeded in Saudizing this sector. This sector could create 60,000 job opportunities for Saudis.

As for the Saudization of the health sector, this will take a very long time as former Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih has said. The percentage of Saudization in the government health sector stands at 60 percent while in the private sector it is 8 percent. The number of Saudi doctors working in the private sector is 29 percent.

The real problem lies in the practices of some companies, which have led to the emergence of fake Saudization. We must combat and curb these practices. However, we first have to admit that we have a problem and that this problem requires drastic solutions. Employers say young Saudi men and women are lazy and are not interested in working and accuse Saudi youth of preferring to stay at home rather than to take a low-paying job that does not befit the social status of a Saudi job seeker.

The solution to unemployment does not lie in Saudization and forcing companies to hire Saudi employees that they do not want. We first have to change the perception that young Saudi men and women have about work. Saudi youth should be provided with training courses to develop and hone their professional skills. Any company will be eager to hire a fully trained and skilled employee who has experience. Only then will we be able to achieve the same economic progress as advanced countries.

Fake Saudization should be eradicated before it gets out of control and becomes rampant. It could be an insurmountable obstacle if we do not put an end to it. It could create a generation of young men and women who are not interested in finding a job and who prefer to get paid for doing nothing. We need innovative solutions to change today’s situation.


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