Buraidah – If recruitment of foreign workers were put on hold for six months, not a single Saudi would remain jobless.
That was Minister of Labor Ghazi Al-Gosaibi’s answer to the avalanche of questions he had to face on the second day of the 7th National Dialogue in Buraidah on Wednesday.
In a speech at the beginning of one of the dialogue’s sessions, the straight-talking Gosaibi said that his ministry had to succumb to the demands of a large swathe of the society which opposed his ministry’s policy of minimizing foreign recruitment, mainly because of the Kingdom’s economic boom.
“Last year, 1.7 million work visas were issued,” said Gosaibi, “which was the highest number in the history of the Kingdom.”
He added that having to allow that to happen was like taking poison.
Gosaibi said his ministry managed to find jobs for 50,000 Saudis in each of the past few years, falling far short of its aspirations.
“If we don’t multiply that number in the coming years, then eliminating unemployment would be possible,” he said. “We have to seriously consider the benefits of this in both the government and private sectors.”
He added that the real problem the ministry has to deal with is that it tries to get someone who doesn’t want to work hired by someone who doesn’t want to hire them, especially that government jobs are still far more desirable for their job security, benefits, salaries and generous vacations, which the private sector simply doesn’t match.
The Ministry of Planning, he said, had estimated that the qualifications of 80 percent of Saudi job seekers are below high school levels. – Okaz