Saudi Arabia refused to renew the contracts of 9,267 expatriate employees working in its public sector and rejected around 2,607 new applications last year in a bid to boost employment among its locals, according to a senior official.
Abdul Rahman Al-Barrak, Minister of Civil Services, said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency that all jobs previously occupied by expats would be considered vacant until qualified Saudi citizens could fill them.
Al-Barrak said that the ministry would not approve any applications from government departments to appoint expats unless they advertise in local media and find no qualified Saudis.
The minister also said that such requests would be subject to supply and demand in the local labour market.
“We will focus on replacing foreign contract workers with Saudis,” he said.
“We’re coordinating with all academic institutions to see to it that all graduates meet the needs of the current labour market and that all institutions offer specialisations held by expatriates,” he was quoted as saying in the local media.
Saudi Arabia’s healthcare sector employs the largest number of public sector expat workers due to unavailability of qualified local workforce, according to the Civil Services ministry.
A royal decree, issued recently, mandated public sector departments across the Kingdom to formulate their own localisation plan for the next five years.
Al-Barrak said that the ministry has received the five-year Saudisation plan from 79 departments so far.
“We are studying the plans and related details to specify the type of jobs held by non-Saudis,” he said.
Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate fell marginally from 12.4 per cent in 2011 to 11.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 owing to the country’s stringent implementation of Nitaqat – a compulsory quota system.
The Kingdom also recently announced the provision of unemployment insurance to encourage more Saudis to work for the private sector and to reduce its public wage bill.