SAUDI-SHOURA-SLAMS-NITAQAT;-SAYS-IT-FAILED-TO-YIELD-DESIRED-RESULTSJEDDAH, Jan 29 – Shoura Council members have criticized the Labor Ministry’s Nitaqat program, saying it has failed to achieve the desired results.

“Companies manipulate the system to give the impression that they have helped Saudis get employed,” a member told the Shoura meeting.
Saeed Al-Asheikh said the achievements of the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) were less than expected.

“Unemployment rates rose to 12.5 percent in 2012 despite the huge amounts of money (SR12 billion) invested with the fund,” he said.
Fahd bin Juma, another member, said the fund’s support to companies has had little impact. “The employment program is focusing on major cities, while job opportunities remain scarce in small cities,” he said. The HRDF is also facing a problem employing Saudis in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Another member said the fund’s investments, which exceed SR12 billion, had poor returns. Shoura members have questioned the fund’s relevance in light of growing unemployment. The HRDF has spent more than SR90 million on plans and studies.

Meanwhile, the Labor Ministry has said that it is planning to nationalize the retail business sector to create at least 42,000 jobs for salesmen, saleswomen and sales supervisors. The ministry expects that Saudis will be able to receive a minimum salary of SR4,500 by taking up these jobs.
“There are a lot of opportunities in the retail sector,” a ministry official said. According to a report, about 16 percent of foreign employees work in the sector. The ministry’s new move is significant in light of statistics that show that 75 percent of Saudi job seekers registered with the HRDF hold only secondary school certificates.

“We will inform Saudi job seekers about opportunities at supermarkets and other retail business areas and train them to work in sales and sale supervision,” the official said. — ARAB NEWS

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