RIYADH, 27 May 2003 — The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) has targeted the IT, construction and health care sectors as part of a new strategy to create 20,000 jobs for Saudis this year.
Dr. Mohamed A. Al-Sahlawi, director-general of the HRDF, told Arab News that the fund had already helped to provide jobs for 170 young Saudis in the IT sector in Hail in March this year.
The HRDF organized a workshop to which suppliers of the IT sector and training institutions were invited. The idea was to motivate representatives of the IT sector to employ Saudis after they had been put through an HRDF-funded training program.
Dr. Al-Sahlawi said these specialized training programs needed funds which are beyond HRDF resources. “We spent SR300 million last year for the creation of 10,000 jobs. This year we would need over SR600 million for meeting our new target. The figure is beyond our resources of SR460 million which we raise from Iqama fees,” he said.
In reply to a question, the director-general said the HRDF was aware of the fact that regional imbalance in national development had created a situation in which the population growth in Riyadh stood at eight percent annually as against the national average of 3.5 percent. This was due to the influx of people from the surrounding areas in search of better job opportunities in the capital.
Dr. Al-Sahlawi said the HRDF had proposed to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Supreme Commission for Tourism to map out a strategy for creating employment opportunities for Saudis and help stabilize the situation so that they need not move out of their areas to improve their job prospects.
Besides Hail, the HRDF strategy also delivered results in Jizan and Al-Qassim in checking the movement of jobseekers from those areas. The private sector, Dr. Al-Sahlawi pointed out, had also cooperated with the fund by subsidizing training schemes and contributing toward salaries at a later stage.
“We are targeting companies that have branches in other parts of the Kingdom,” he observed. However, in some cases, companies agreed to hire Saudis following the completion of their training scheme and then signed a new contract with them amending the terms of the original contract.
The HRDF has two types of employment schemes — one tied to training and the other to direct employment. The fund pays 75 percent of the employee’s salary during the two-year training period, besides contributing 50 percent of his salary after on-the-job training. The fund’s support does not exceed SR2,000 per month per employee.
The HRDF also encourages the private sector in outlying areas to pool resources for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It has also approached agricultural companies to begin Saudization of their work force. The response has been encouraging.