The Ministry of Labour and Social Development has announced plans to launch a revised Saudisation program. The program, which will launch next week and is called The Balanced Nitaqat, is part of a package of reforms to improve the performance of the labour market. It is the start of the national transformation of the ministry to keep pace with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Previously, the only requirement for Saudisation, was to include the name of the Saudi national on the employee list sent to the Ministry of Labour, the revision means some additional factors are taken into consideration. Some important ones to note are; women’s participation, the average wage, the number of years in service and the job role.
Labour Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani explained that the revision is part of the national strategy for employment; a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The strategy aims to reduce unemployment among Saudis and increase the number of women in the labour market from the current 22% to 30% by stimulating enterprises in the private sector to create more jobs for nationals.
The Minister has held a number of conferences and issued press statements over the last few weeks, during which he has commented that there are currently 1.7 million Saudis working in the private sector with 477,000 of those being women. He expressed his dissatisfaction at the ratio of women in the Kingdom’s workforce.
According to official data from the Ministry of Labour, overall unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is 11.5%. However the unemployment rate among women is 34%. The employment quota that was introduced to the private sector in 2011, came after the previous Saudisation policy had failed to yield satisfactory results. The 2011 requirement imposed stricter penalties on companies that did not meet the requirements and obligated certain sectors to hire women.
The Balanced Nitaqat is included in the National Transformation Program as part the government’s reforms to diversify the economy away from oil. Officials acknowledged that the reforms would put a focus on creating jobs within the private sector and allowing the continued reduce in spending following the decline in oil prices in recent months.