RIYADH: Saudi-owned and multinational companies have stepped up their recruitment of local workers following the announcement of Nitaqat, the Labor Ministry’s newly introduced Saudization program.
Under the program, private firms, based on the percentage of Saudization, are classified into green, yellow and red categories. Companies with high Saudization rates will come under the green category, while those who fail to achieve the required rates or refuse to employ Saudis will be included in the yellow and red categories, respectively.
Khalid Othaim, General Manager of the Dani Food Group, said the group is currently in a process of recruiting more Saudi nationals in different job categories.
“Although our company is in the ‘green category,’ as defined by Labor Ministry’s recent Nitaqat program, we are moving ahead with the recruitment of large number of Saudis to reach at least 50 percent,” he said.
M. Shehim Unni, Regional Director of Lulu Hypermarkets, a multinational chain of stores that recently opened two branches in Saudi Arabia, said his company has launched an aggressive recruitment drive in line with the Kingdom’s recent Nitaqat program.
Shehim said that, besides the position of cashiers, Saudi nationals will be hired for different jobs that include managerial positions. “We are also meeting the Kingdom’s minimum wage requirement set for Saudi nationals,” he said.
He said Lulu, with a workforce of 1,100 personnel, has already achieved a 30-percent Saudization rate and is placed in green category. “Our new recruitment drive will further take us to achieve a 50-percent Saudization rate,” he said.
Philips Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics announced the recruitment of ‘high potential’ Saudi candidates in line with the Kingdom’s Saudization program, said Dick Bunschoten, its general manager. “The initiative will also help in the creation of new employment opportunities in line with the Saudization (program). Four out of the final six candidates that excelled in the test received offer letters, of which three are Saudi nationals,” he said referring to recruitment event held in Riyadh last month.
“To attract more, Philips Saudi Arabia’s management decided to conduct recruitment program on an annual basis.”
The candidates will be trained in different positions in Philips’ Middle East operations and will be invited to Philips’ Development Career Center in the Netherlands to meet senior executives and other candidates from different countries.
Labor Minister Adel Fakieh at an award ceremony held in Riyadh earlier this year to honor private sector companies that achieved high-levels of Saudization had hinted on introducing a carrot-and-stick approach for companies, an obvious reference to the Nitaqat program that his ministry has launched recently.
He said those companies that achieve high-leverl Saudization would receive incentives and full cooperation from his ministry.
Those that fail to meet the required percentage rate of Saudization might face certain consequences that those firms should try to avoid.
He warned that in the “carrot-and-stick” approach he would use persuasion involving rewards and punishments for companies that would not meet the required Saudization rate.
“We are currently engaged in developing a carrot-and-sticks strategy for effective implementation of Saudization program,” Fakieh had said in January after honoring the companies that achieved greater percentage of Saudization.
Saudi Arabia introduced the ambitious Saudization program in 1994 with a mandate for private companies to recruit fixed percentage of Saudis every year. The program has met with a lukewarm response from the private sector, ostensibly due to the shortage of trained Saudi workforce in the labor market.
– Saudi Gazette