Manpower crisis looms: Saudi official


The impact of the manpower shortage is expected to be particularly felt in the coming period since the Kingdom is one of the largest labor importing countries.

There are three main reasons for this phenomenon, he said: Increase in demand for migrant workers, sharp increase in cost of living and high recruitment fees.

Al-Badah also pointed out some other reasons which have exacerbated the problem. He said unlicensed and fake recruitment offices functioning in different parts of the Kingdom deceive employers with their dishonest ads in newspapers.

In an interview with Al-Watan Arabic daily, Al-Badah said the Kingdom’s recruitment market will suffer from a drastic shortage in migrant labor, particularly housemaids and skilled and unskilled workers.

“What is triggering the crisis is that many European recruitment agencies are turning to India, Philippines and Indonesia to recruit migrant labors. The salaries of these workers have increased tremendously because of the competition among these countries,” he said.

Al-Badah said the sharp increase in the demand for migrant labor has prompted labor exporting countries to toughen employment conditions and increase the wages of the people recruited by the Kingdom and other Gulf countries.

“In the past we used to offer unskilled workers from India between SR400 and SR500 but now the minimum salary is SR700. The same applies to Indonesian migrant labor, especially housemaids and drivers.

This shows that the increase in demand for these workers globally has made dramatic changes in the map of migrant workers especially those coming from the subcontinent,” he said.

Also, the entry of new countries in the list of labor importing countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia has also increased the demand, he added.

Al-Badah said the increase in demand has upset the balance of supply. As a result, the Kingdom and other Gulf countries will definitely suffer from a drastic shortage in the migrant labor, particularly skilled workers who are badly needed in the new development projects launched by the government.

As to the reason why Nepal has for years refused to send housemaids to the Kingdom, Al-Badah said: “In fact, the Nepalese have been opposed to the idea for more than 20 years. Those Nepalese housemaids working in the Kingdom have come via India. We have visited Nepal, and in principle they have agreed to send housemaids to the Kingdom.

However, there are still some arrangements that need to be made to finalize the deal.”

In order to overcome the labor shortage, he said, the committee is looking for new markets from which to import migrant workers pointing out that the Kingdom imports 70,000 workers annually including 40,000 housemaids.

Al-Badah said the emergence of the newly founded recruitment companies will eliminate the malpractices of the past and put an end to most problems, especially those of fleeing housemaids and drivers.

There will no longer be sponsors since these companies will take over the responsibility of the sponsors and directly monitor the workers they import, Al-Badah said.

He said these companies will set up huge housing centers in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Each center will accommodate 20,000 to 30,000 workers where the housemaids will be trained for two to three weeks.

On the completion of the orientation course, a citizen will approach the company and employ the worker he needs, after opening an account in the name of the worker into which he will deposit the monthly salary.

This will reduce the recruitment procedure to three days, he said.


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