Saudi Aramco
A worker at the site of Saudi Aramco's Al Khurais central oil processing facility, 160km east of the capital Riyadh. Illustrative image. Image Credit: AFP file

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s labour authorities have launched a vocational verification programme in Sri Lanka as part of an expanded scheme aimed to check skills of workers who will be employed in the kingdom.

The programme, undertaken by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources, has been launched in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in recent months.

The programme covers five vocational fields — plumbing, electricity, vehicle electricity (electrical problems), auto mechanics as well as refrigeration and air conditioning. They are part of larger 23 targeted specialties with a view to developing manpower skills.

The ministry said the latest step is part of its plan to implement the external track of the programme in several countries.

The scheme is part of the Ministry of Human Resources’s efforts to upgrade quality of workers at the kingdom’s labour market, enhance professional services, boost productivity and halt access of unskilled workforce to the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia, a country of 32.2 million people, is home to a large community of expat workers.

Internally, as of June, commercial establishments in Saudi Arabia became obligated to get professional licences for their workers. The obligation covers workers in 40 commercial activities overseen by municipalities, according to the Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

This requires verifying the workers’ educational or experience certificates and necessary skills to do their jobs well.

The system qualifies workers to obtain a vocational verification certificate issued by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources.

In late 2020, Saudi Arabia disclosed labour reforms, drastically revamping the country’s sponsorship system. Millions of migrant workers benefitted from the reforms, which came into effect in March 2021.

These reforms allow job mobility and regulate the exit and re-entry visa issuance for expatriate workers without employers’ approval. Employee mobility allows expatriate workers to transfer between employers upon the expiry of the binding work contract without the employer’s consent.