A monthly stipend for 600,000 unemployed youths will be stopped from this month, an official of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) said Wednesday.
The stipend scheme was originally intended for 12 months. “There will be no extension of the unemployment stipend to a second stage. The royal order on the matter is clear,” Director of HRDF Ibrahim Al-Moiqil said in a press conference after signing agreements with 25 private employment offices for the employment of Saudis in the private sector at the headquarters of the fund in Riyadh.
The unemployment allowance was introduced as part of the Hafiz program, which aimed to increase job opportunities for youths with intensive training programs in professions required in the job market.
“Even if the stipend payment is limited to 12 months, the project’s training and placement service will continue,” Al-Moiqil said.
However, he added that the HRDF is studying what more could be done through the Hafiz program. "Newly registered youths who are qualified for grants are given monthly stipends," he said. The Labor Ministry, in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, launched the Hafiz program under the directive of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at the end of last year. The program pays a monthly allowance of SR 2,000 to unemployed Saudi men and women.
However, Moiqil noted with concern that a large number of youths registered with the Hafiz refused to accept jobs with salaries of even up to SR 8,000 a month.
“Some health diploma holders in the health sector refused to accept jobs in the private sector even if the salary offered to them was not less than the government sector,” he added.
He also disapproved of the lax attitude of some beneficiaries of the project. “About 70 percent of registered youth do not update their data as required by the Hafiz regulation, particularly in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, unlike the youth in other cities and towns.
The updating is simple and needs only a little time. The update is also required for their selection for training projects,” he said.
The official warned that if anyone submitted false data to benefit from the stipend that person would have to return all the money he/she received from the fund.
The HRDF started payment of unemployment grants at the end of last year. Close to two million unemployed youth, a considerable number of them women, have applied for the stipend.
The unemployment rate in the Kingdom stood at 10.5 percent in 2010, according to a statement of Labor Minister Adel Fakeih.
Women’s unemployment was gauged at above 28 percent.