Interview: Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shoaibi

How is the government ensuring a level playing field in the application and promotion processes within the public sector?

AHMED BIN ABDULLAH AL SHOAIBI: In the transition to a paperless environment, the Ministry of the Civil Service has developed an e-recruitment system known as Jadara on its website, where people can apply for government jobs. The system allows applicants’ data to be scrutinised electronically and immediately, without the applicant having to appear in person. Jadara has several advantages, including a standardised electronic application form, checking the applicant’s relevant qualifications against all pay scales, and providing an update on the applicant’s status and the total points in his/her portfolio.

With regard to promotion, the system considers the total points earned by the nominated employee. In order to ensure fairness, promotion points depend on several elements, the most important of which are training, performance evaluations, seniority and education. The training points are mainly earned through courses offered by the IPA and organisations accredited by the Scholarship and Training Committee.

What can training institutions and the private sector do to better address the labour market’s needs?

AL SHOAIBI: The Saudi government attaches great importance to the education and training sectors in meeting the rapidly changing needs for qualified human capital in the labour market. Successive five-year development plans have witnessed significant growth in the admission capacity of training institutions, the development of training programmes and the integration of various roles to increase the rates of Saudiisation in the private sector. In order to make training outputs compatible with the job market’s needs, the IPA and other relevant institutions identify the areas that require training. The Ministry of Labour and the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) develop and implement general strategies for the private sector, foremost of which is the training and employment of the labour force. The HRDF facilitates the recruitment and training of citizens for the private sector.

What can be done to make private sector jobs more attractive to Saudi nationals?

AL SHOAIBI: A key initiative recently adopted by the government to address Saudiisation is the Hafiz programme, which supports job seekers as they look for employment. Another scheme is the Nitaqat programme, which aims to raise the wages of Saudi employees in the private sector. Other policies particular to women include work-at-home, part-time jobs and other initiatives. The HRDF and King Abdullah Scholarship Programme have also contributed by improving the level of education among Saudis.

Despite the government’s efforts in this respect, there is still a need to make the private sector more attractive to job seekers through awareness programmes aimed at challenging negative stereotypes. It is also necessary to improve the image that private sector employers have of Saudi employees. Other requirements include improving the work environment in the private sector, such as weekly working hours and days off.

How is the government training its civil servants to cope with new e-government platforms?

AL SHOAIBI: The Kingdom has made great strides in the field of e-government. The Yesser e-government initiative supports the changes associated with implementing such a project, which requires the activation of technological tools that enable stakeholders in government agencies to apply new procedures. This includes the need to develop human resources in public firms to keep up with this transformation. It is very important to create capacity-building and skill-developing programmes with respect to e-government applications so that public employees can cope with and support new changes. This is why the IPA launched its ICT programmes long ago, so that staff could develop the skills needed to disseminate an information culture.