The Ministry of Labor is exploring the possibility of Saudizing the vast retail sector, especially commercial centers and malls as part of its efforts to find more areas to employ Saudi youths including women.
“The idea of Saudizing the retail sector is being discussed with other government departments and our private sector partners,” undersecretary at the ministry Fahd Al-Takhayfi told Al-Madinah daily.
Stressing the potential of the retail sector — in particular commercial centers as a plentiful source of jobs — the official urged business owners to improve the work environment in commercial centers to suit Saudi working women.
The annual volume of the retail sector in the Kingdom is SR 200 billion with 242,000 licensed retail shops and commercial centers according to a study. With a market share of SR 54 billion, food outlets dominate the sector. Between 70 and 80 percent of the workers in the sector are expatriates.
The project will be implemented in two phases. Initially, the ministry will present the details of the project in a workshop in which public and private sectors in different provinces will participate. It will also identify the markets and malls to be Saudized and where women can be employed. During the second phase, the actual placement of Saudis interested in such positions will take place.
In Phase II, Al-Takhayfi said male and female officials would inspect shops and commercial centers in the first six months. They will also identify establishments that can employ Saudi women workers. They will also prepare a database of all the establishments with vacancies available with them.
The project will then be presented to the owners of the establishments for the voluntary option to agree to join the project. The owners will also be offered incentives.
The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) will subsidize the salaries for the Saudi workers in such shops and pay transportation allowances for women workers besides opening crèches to take care of their babies while working.
Service centers of the Labor Ministry, other ministries and the HRDF will be opened in commercial centers where the project would be implemented.
The service centers will undertake the supervision of the legal aspects of the project of Saudization. They will also ensure the transportation arrangements for men and women workers either by paying an allowance financed by the HRDF or signing contracts with large transporting companies for the task.
The service centers will also monitor work ethics of the Saudi work force, adherence to regulations and ensure that the incentives are utilized for increased Saudization in each commercial center. They will also ensure that all related royal orders and decisions of the Council of Ministers are implemented.
The regulations to support and legalize the employment of national workers will also be issued during the second phase.