Employers have complained that many young Saudi workers are demanding a salary not less than SR5,000 without committing themselves to work, according to Abdul Aziz Al-Awad, deputy chairman of the National Training Committee at the Saudi Council of Chambers.
He said that they insist on getting their salaries while staying at home, as well as being accounted for in the Saudization quotas regardless of their attendance and productivity.
Al-Awad termed this as outrageous, damaging job nationalization programs that the country is striving hard to achieve in line with its duty to find suitable jobs for its nationals.
“This inappropriate action by some young men undermines all the country’s efforts for the nationalization of jobs and opens many loopholes that are bound to distort the labor market. This behavior is counterproductive and takes advantage of the recent procedures in this regard,” he said.
According to him, the solution is to hasten the implementation of the Nitaqat program for individuals. “This program for individuals is similar to that for firms,” he said, explaining that some of its benefits include preventing job dropouts. It sets specific requirements that allow the employee freedom of movement between firms.
He said the implementation of the Nitaqat program on citizens working in the private sector will contribute to curbing the undisciplined behavior of some Saudis at work.
“The program that the Ministry of Labor is seeking to apply grants many privileges to employees in the private sector if they choose to move to other workplaces after a period of time that qualifies them to do so,” he said
Al-Awad called for the implementation of a mechanism under the Nitaqat program for individuals that puts employees into categories according to their discipline and performance.
“Employees whose performance and discipline are outstanding should be categorized in the green zone, those who are less in both in the yellow and those who are frequently absent from work and exhibit poor work performance in the red,” he suggested.
Al-Awad said that the Ministry of Labor should impose penalties and sanctions on employees violating the system, which should include discontinuing the subsidies they receive from the Human Resources Fund and eventually preventing them from work once sanctions and penalties are repeated. “This is bound to achieve discipline,” he added.
He said acute shortages in staff in several service and technical sectors, including health and engineering, urgently need planning for educational and training programs.
“Such sectors should not be under the pressure of bargaining by Saudi youths who demand that they get their salaries while sitting at home at a time when the private sector badly needs to achieve the goals of the country’s leadership concerning the nationalization of jobs,” Al-Awad said.
He added that the move by the Ministry of Labor to nationalize jobs showed the low number of Saudis working in health and engineering sectors, where the Saudization process may take some time.
It also unveiled several aspects of staff shortages in agriculture, fishing and other service jobs that citizens are reluctant to accept. “This requires reconsidering our entire educational and training systems,” he said.
“Our educational system urgently needs to be reformed so as to be integrated in the planning of economic and social development,” he said, adding that a strategy should be evolved in this regard that aims to close the gap in the competencies, skills and work ethics of the national work force.
“All sectors and individuals should work hand in hand on the diversification of economic activities while striving at the same time to change the attitudes of youth and employers with respect to the enrollment of young Saudis to work in the private sector and turn it into an attractive sector with advantages and benefits comparable to that in the government. This way, the private sector will be the main engine for economic growth,” he said.