Saudi Arabia’s Labour Ministry is to open 27 advanced vocational colleges to train locals to work on the kingdom’s megaprojects. 

Speaking at the MEED Saudi Mega Transport and Infrastructure Conference in Riyadh, Ahmed al-Humaidan, deputy minister of labour for labour policies, said that the centres would form an essential part of the programme to increase Saudisation in private sector workforces.

“We need to ensure that Saudi nationals get the experience of working on the megaprojects that are being planned or are under way. It is vital that they work on these construction projects and do not find out about them after they are completed,” he told delegates.

The deputy minister said that the 27 centres would focus on teaching Saudis advanced vocational skills that can be easily transferred to the private sector. He also cited recent figures on expatriate workers as a situation that is untenable for the kingdom.

“We are seeing one million labourers come in from overseas every year,” he said. “We only really need 20 or 30 per cent of that figure. This is not good for a developing country and we need to tackle this problem.”

The Labour Ministry is targeting large companies for Saudisation as it realises that small and medium-sized firms will not be able to handle large volumes of local workers.

Other incentives for companies include the paying of up to 50 per cent of salaries of any Saudi worker while he is being trained, as well as offering other financial incentives.