Saudization leads to scarcity of skilled labors

A Riyadh gold souk festooned with glittering jewelry has run short of salesmen

The Saudization of the labor force in the oil-rich kingdom Saudi Arabia does not seem to work well for business owners, as many local people are not willing to work long hours and also lack the necessary job skills.

Some gold shops have shut down and others are struggling amid a shortage of skilled Saudi labor after the government enforced “100 percent Saudization” in December.

The problem is that many Saudis, long accustomed to a generous cradle-to-grave welfare system that has been scaled back, regard such jobs as degrading.

“Saudis are new to his kind of job and they need to gain experience,” said Saudi shop owner Fayez al-Hardi, who has brought in male relatives to temporarily replace a handful of skilled Yemeni salesmen he was forced to let go.

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Many Saudis are unwilling to work early shifts and even those without experience demand more than double the wage of skilled foreigners.

Some shops are holding foreign workers in reserve and continue to pay their salaries as they stay home in the hope the government will reverse its decision. But that appears increasingly unlikely.

Reports say that multiple car rental outlets have shut down in Riyadh as the government starts Saudization of the sector.

The policy, along with a hike in expat levies and fees for dependents, has triggered an exodus of foreign workers. Government statistics show that more than 300,000 blue-collar workers lost jobs in Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2017 alone.

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Saudization has stirred heated debates on social media, with supporters of the policy demanding a fair chance to compete with non-Saudis while bitterly attacking online job postings that seek skilled workers from South Asia and elsewhere.

But aggressive Saudization is not driving down joblessness among nationals, experts say, despite government assurances that it will create thousands of jobs.

 

Source Credit: Daily Sabah

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