Saudi Arabia likely to review Nitaqat scheme amid ‘work paralysis’

Employers say it is difficult to fill quotas for the recruitment of nationals required under the controversial Saudisation programme

PHOTO: The enforcement of Nitaqat has resulted in ‘work paralysis’ in some sectors, according to local media reports. Credit: Shutterstock

Saudi Arabian authorities are likely to review the controversial Nitaqat programme, which is designed to encourage employment of nationals, following complaints about the difficulty of recruiting for certain types of jobs.

Employer complaints, which have been endorsed by some ministries, state that the enforcement of Nitaqat has resulted in ‘work paralysis’, according to local media reports.

The majority of complaints focus on two issues – Saudi citizens’ lack of interest in some jobs, and places of work outside urban areas where employees have to stay for a specified period.

An Arab News report said that some ministries were forced to consider employer complaints after receiving studies and addresses from national committees affiliated to the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) seeking a review of the system.

The national committees have promised their readiness to grant Saudis overall opportunities to occupy professions and jobs in the private sector if they have the necessary training and qualifications. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has raised the nationalisation rate in a number of private-sector establishments by coming up with programs and projects that allow for more opportunities for Saudi job seekers.

The Labour Ministry in April postponed the third phase of the Nitaqat programme to allow the private sector “more time to understand standards”. The news was greeted with relief by expatriate workers and by the private sector as a whole, local media reported at the time.

The CSC has put pressure on the ministry to postpone the implementation of Nitaqat’s third phase for three years, so as to avoid a labour shortage in the construction, manufacturing and sales sectors, reports added.


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