Saudi will need expats 'for at least 40 years'

Head of kingdom's vocational training agency says it would take four decades to replace expat workers
GCC expats, American expatriate in Saudi Arabia, expats and Saudi national
By Courtney Trenwith
Sun 31 Mar 2013 03:02 PM

It would take Saudi Arabia 40 years to train its nationals to replace expatriate workers, the head of the country’s vocational training organisation has said, according to Saudi Gazette.

The government’s Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) is looking to engage 25 world-class training institutes to train 250,000 Saudis in a move towards making the country self-sufficient.

There are about 8m expat workers in the kingdom. Many are in menial jobs such as a housemaid, but a significant proportion are in highly-skilled areas such as oil and gas.

TVTC governor Ali Bin Nasser Al-Ghafis said it would take four decades to train enough Saudis to fill the country’s labour requirements.

“It will take Saudi skilled and technical workforce 40 years to take up their position,” he told Saudi Gazette.

Al-Ghafis said tenders had been received from about 50 universities and institutions for the TVTC programme, with training expected to start in September.

The kingdom is working to reduce the number of expats, including forcing companies to hire at least one Saudi in a program known as the Nitaqat.

Introduced in 2011, the system involves rewards and punishments for the country’s 800,000 registered private companies, depending on how well they meet quotas for the number of Saudis on their payroll.

Companies fulfilling their quotas are listed in the green zone, receiving privileges such as expedited visas for foreign workers and the right to hire expatriates working for other companies without first getting approval.

Firms that fall short of their quotas but are considered to be making efforts to reach them are in the yellow zone and face some restrictions on access to foreign labour.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.