Students classified as workers in Saudi Arabia

Architectural students at Dar Al Uloom University
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Engineering students can now be classified as workers and counted by as contributing towards Nitaqat Saudi-isation targets set by the Ministry of Labour, MEED’s Saudi Mega Projects’ sustainability, energy efficiency and clean energy day was told this afternoon.

The Saudi Council of Engineers said last month that students at engineering colleges can register in training programmes organised by engineering firms, the conference was told.

“This offers major opportunities to companies operating in Saudi Arabia,” assistant professor in Dar Al Uloom University’s college of architecture and design Sultan Alotaibi said. Dar Al Uloom University is a private university in Riyadh with about 4,000 students.

Saudi Arabia’s Labour Minister Mufrej al-Haqabani is reported to have asked engineering companies to record a 30 per cent rate of Saudisation as part of the Nitaqat programme. It is estimated that there are no more than 30,000 Saudi Arabian engineers and about 20 per cent of all those working as engineers in the kingdom are Saudi Arabians.
Construction industry leaders at the Saudi Talent in Construction Conference organised in association with the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) on 6 December said they were hoping for a relaxation in the Ministry of Labour’s Nitaqat Saudiisation targets which they claim have seriously weakened the kingdom’s construction industry.

Deputy labour minister Ahmed Kattan told the conference that the ministry has drafted “improvements” to Nitaqat programme introduced in 2011 which penalises companies for failing to hit minimum Saudiisation targets.

Fawwaz al-Khodari, chief executive of Saudi Arabian construction firm Abdullah A M Al-Khodari, told the conference that Nitaqat had weakened the Saudi Arabian supply chain by increasing costs; encouraged the hiring of Saudi Arabians to meet Nitaqat targets rather than to work and caused serious delays in project delivery.

Al-Khodari said he hoped that the Ministry of Labour would accept recommendations that blanket targets should be replaced by targets for particular professions. He said the prospects of hiring a technical worker for a remote project were almost zero and said that the targeting should apply for jobs that Saudi Arabians are will to fill.

Saudi Mega Projects is being held the Riyadh Intercontinental Hotel on 8-10 December 2015. The strategic event partner is SABB; the gold sponsor is Conrac; the silver sponsor is Autodesk and the bronze sponsor is Pace. Viewpoint is lunch sponsor. The conference sponsors are Hill International; Aconex and Atheeb. Exhibitors are Sika, Salfo Engineering & Management Consultants, Arminox, PAL and Effat University.