‘Contracting sector needs to hire Saudis’

Participants at the inaugural session of Jeddah Human Resources Forum.

Participants at the inaugural session of Jeddah Human Resources Forum.

The contracting sector in the Kingdom employing the largest number of expatriates is up against tough challenges amid the implementation of Saudization, experts think.

The Jeddah Human Resources Forum met Sunday to discuss the obstacles in the contracting sector. Participants said that although Saudization programs were creating jobs for nationals, they had also raised the cost of labor.

The three-day forum with the participation of the private sector and the Ministry of Labor was held to draw strategic inputs with the first session opening with a vote on the ministry’s Saudization policies and the rising cost in the contracting sector.

Sixty-six percent of the participants voted to say that there would be a rise in additional costs as part of Saudization, while 51 percent said Saudi youth were not fit to work as plumbers and electricians.

All were unanimously in their opinion on the benefits of Saudization. “Despite several hurdles in the way of Saudization, contracting companies in the Kingdom were able to double the growth of Saudi employees from 5 percent last year to 10 percent in 2014,” said Moammar Alatawi, a leading contractor and chairman of the contractors committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).

He pointed out that while expatriate laborers earned salaries of around SR600 a month, working for 12 hours a day on average and staying in any sort of accommodation, Saudis would need to get a better deal.

“The introduction of Saudi workers into the contracting sector should be a priority for the sector,” he said.

He also suggested that the ministry moot the idea of introducing subcontractors where young Saudis could be given the responsibility of executing projects and displaying their talent and management skills.

Waleed Abu Khalid refuted the claim that Saudis were not serious workers. On the contrary, “Saudi youth are work-oriented and this is reflected in leading companies such as SABIC, Saudi Aramco and Abdul Lateef Jameel,” he said.

He called on the private sector to train Saudis for jobs with the government sharing the cost of training.

Mohammed Alnaji, member of the Shoura Council and chairman of HR and the administrative committee of the council, said the contracting sector is an important player in the country’s economy in light of the massive housing scheme recently announced by the government.

He said the the Human Resources Fund is a bridge between the private sector and the Labor Ministry to achieve success in Saudization rates and improve communication between them.

 
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