Pakistan and Saudi Arabia officials signed two agreements on worker recruitment and skill verification. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed two agreements to create job opportunities for the skilled workforce and improve job protection and security of Pakistani nationals in the Kingdom.

The agreements were signed during the visit of Pakistan’s education minister Shafqat Mahmood to Riyadh at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sheikh. The agreement on recruitment of workers was signed by the Saudi Deputy Minister for International Affairs Dr Adnan bin Abdullah Alnuaim and Pakistan’s Am-bassador Lt. Gen. (retired) Bilal Akbar.

“This important cooperation between both countries has far-reaching impact for enhancing the employment opportunities for the skilled Pakistani workforce by joint certification and testing” by Pakistan’s National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) and Saudi Arabia’s Takamol. The accords will pave the way towards creating new job opportunities for “millions of Pakistani skilled workers,” the education ministry said.

The agreement on skills verification “will enhance export of skilled and certified Pakistani workforce” to the Kingdom. “The certification for our skilled manpower will create opportunities for technical workforce in Pakistan to get internationally recognized train-ing and certifications,” Pakistan foreign office said. It will also help improve the em-ployability skills of the Pakistani workforce.

Skills verification

The Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development of Saudi Arabia has introduced a skill verification program this July to regulate its labor market. After the implementation of this programme, verification of skills has become necessary for the Pakistani skilled workers who intend to work in KSA, Pakistani officials said.

The workers’ recruitment agreement “will contribute toward further streamlining the process of export of workforce from Pakistan” in diverse sectors in the Kingdom. The accord will safeguard the rights and provide comprehensive legal protection to Pakistani workers employed in Saudi Arabia, the official statement said. The agreement would also help resolve contractual disputes and take legal recourse against recruit-ment offices, companies or agencies over violation of the law.

Saudi Arabia is home to over 2.5 million Pakistanis — the largest number of expats who contribute extensively to the country’s economy through remittances. However, most of the Pakistani workers are engaged in low or semi-skilled jobs as they lack the training and education needed for in-demand and high-paying jobs. They typically earn low wages and often work in precarious conditions. The latest accords are aimed at offer-ing job protection and legal support to Pakistani workers and improving their skill set.