Parodying what some may call the generation ‘Y’ mantra – Eat. Sleep. Tan. Repeat, (or one its innumerable variants) this article examines the rigors Saudi Arabian employers now face when they wish to recruit a foreign national employee from outside of the Kingdom.
Test. Plan. Train is tantamount to a 3 stage test that all KSA employers must satisfy before they are eligible to hire a foreign national.
Test – The Saudi National resident labor market must be tested and invited to apply for all new positions a Saudi employer has vacancies for. If no suitable candidate is found then the external recruiting phase can commence. This entire process can be managed via the new Taqaat online portal as all new roles must first be posted on Taqaat.
Plan – It has long be known that the overarching objective of all Saudization initiatives is to facilitate the eventual replacement of a foreign national employee by a Saudi national employee. Employers must now actively succession plan and it could soon be mandatory that the renewal of a foreign national employee’s Iqama is contingent upon no suitably experienced Saudi National candidate being found.
Train – Employers within the Kingdom must have a training program in place that upskills a percentage of its Saudi workforce so that they are equipped to replace their foreign counterparts when the opportunity arises.
Employers are afforded a great deal of flexibility when devising their training regimes but certain aspects are mandatory such as the requirement to provide formal certification to those who have passed the program.
It is only when it can be proven to the Ministry of Labor (MoL) in Saudi Arabia that an employer has satisfied these 3 requirements along with some others prerequisites will approval be granted to hire further foreign national employees.
It must be remembered that Nitaqat still underpins all Saudization initiatives and the above listed are requirements in addition to Nitaqat and not instead of it. Nitaqat was introduced in 2011 and places minimum Saudi national hiring quotas upon all Saudi employers. The quotas vary greatly depending on the size of the entity and the industry sector in which they operate.
Schemes to protect the local workforce are prevalent throughout the GCC region as the increasing levels of youth unemployment is a concern for all member states. However, it is in Saudi Arabia where the greater initiative is being taken and a real commitment is being undertaken to police and enforce the effort.
by: Amir Mayo, Senior Manager, Global Employer Services, Tax, Deloitte, Middle East
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