The Ministry of Labor recognizes the role that guest workers have played, and continue to play, in the development of the country and we appreciate their efforts in all fields and specialties. The Kingdom is investing heavily in its infra and super structures and the demand on manpower is on the rise. During the last couple of years alone the Ministry of Labor has issued more than 2 million work visas in response to this increasing demand.
The nationalization of jobs program in private sector, NITAQAT (RANGES) does not necessarily mean a reduction in opportunities for guest workers, because even if we manage to recruit all Saudi job seekers in the private sector, there will still be shortage of manpower, which will need to be met by new workforce, both foreign and domestic.
QUICK OVERVIEW ON NITAQAT PROGRAM
The Ministry of Labor is launching a new program, called NITAQAT (RANGES), to stimulate nationalization of jobs in the private sector. This initiative is part of the Labor Ministry’s strategy to stimulate national employment. It will be followed by many other initiatives on the short and long term tackling other issues such as women work environment, qualifying job seekers, wage protection, labor rights, etc.
NITAQAT evaluates private sector entities based on their achieved percentage of Saudization in the workforce, in comparison to their peers in size and type of economic activity, and assigns them color codes: Red, Yellow, Green and Premium. Based on the resulting category, the program either offers incentives and new facilities for high Saudization scorers (Green and Premium) or deprives low performing entities in terms of Saudization (Red and Yellow) from basic services.
NITAQAT OFFERS EXPATS GREATER MOBILITY
Private businesses that are categorized as Red or Yellow are subject to number of restrictions and penalties. These include the inability of those entities in the Red category to renew work permits for guest workers regardless of the length of stay, while Yellow entities will continue to be able to renew work permits for employees having less than six years of stay in the Kingdom. This does not mean that those employees will necessarily have to leave the Kingdom; on the contrary they will be offered greater mobility and will be able to seek jobs and switch employer without th consent of their previous employer, provided that their new employer falls in the Green or Premium categories.
Furthermore, guest workers can also help stabilize their current jobs if they help their employers move to the Green or Premium zones through recruiting more Saudis to work in their respective organizations.
Finally, as you all know, present Saudi workforce penetration in the private sector is around the 10% mark. I am sure you will agree that this is an extremely low and unsustainable percentage. It is therefore reasonable and necessary, that we implement policies that aim to better regulate the labor market and correct the imbalances in the workforce ratio. This can only help build a more prosperous and sustainable economy for all.
H.E. Labor Minister Adel Fakeih
(Taken from Labor Minister Adel Fakeih Facebook account http://www.facebook.com/#!/adelmfakeih )