By Kashif Abbasi
Published in Dawn on December 06, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed two agreements related to workers’ recruitment and skills verification of Pakistani workforce being employed in the kingdom, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Sunday.
It said the signing ceremony of the agreements took place during the visit of Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood to Saudi Arabia.
According to the FO, the agreement on workers’ recruitment will contribute to streamlining the process of export of workforce from Pakistan in diverse professions in the kingdom while safeguarding their due rights and providing comprehensive legal protection to Pakistani nationals employed in Saudi Arabia. The agreement will also help in resolving contractual disputes and taking legal recourse against recruitment offices, companies or agencies for any violation.
Education minister visits live broadcasting school in Riyadh
The agreement on skills verification will enhance export of skilled and certified Pakistani workforce to the kingdom.
The FO statement said imparting modern skills and ensuring certification of Pakistani workforce to improve their employability abroad were key areas among Prime Minister Imran Khan’s priority sectors. “Certification for our skilled manpower will create opportunities for technical workforce in Pakistan to get internationally recognised trainings and certifications,” it added.
The education ministry said in a press release that the agreements were signed by Shafqat Mahmood and Dr Ahmad Jabbar Al Yamni from Saudi Arabia at a ceremony at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development of the kingdom. It was witnessed by senior officials from both countries.
“This important cooperation between both countries has far-reaching impact for enhancing the employment opportunities for skilled Pakistani workforce by joint certification and testing by Takamol Saudi Arabia and National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) Pakistan,” said the statement.
“This step [agreements] will also safeguard the existing Pakistani work force in Saudi Arabia. It is expected that millions of Pakistani skilled workers will get gainful employment opportunities with higher earning as a result of the efforts of the government of Pakistan,” it added.
It said that under this partnership, NAVTTC and Takamol, a subsidiary of the government of Saudi Arabia, were establishing the testing regime under the Skills Verification Programme (SVP) by exchanging the NOS (National Occupational Standards) and facilitating skill verification of candidates through competency-based assessment (theory & practical) at exam centres in Pakistan for candidates desirous of working in Saudi Arabia.
This will enable Pakistani skill workforce to have authentic and internationally recognised joint certification by both Takamol and NAVTTC through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment.
According to the press release, the Saudi ministry has introduced the SVP from July 2021 to regulate its labour market. After the implementation of the SVP, the skill verification has become necessary for the Pakistani workers who intend to get employment in Saudi Arabia.
It is important to note that the largest number of Pakistani expatriate workforce is based in Saudi Arabia, contributing substantially to the country’s economy through foreign remittances. Most of the present Pakistani workforce in the kingdom fall in the category of unskilled or semiskilled labour, which means reduced remunerations and it also impacts remittances negatively, the press release said.
Moreover, it added, in the changing scenario of labour laws and dynamics of the labour market overseas, a large number of Pakistani workforce require skills certification as presently they face non-recognition of their qualifications, skills and certification. This cooperation will help a large number of these workers and also lead to national productivity and development.
Saudi Arabia is home to over two million Pakistani migrants and is the single largest remittance source to the South Asian nation. According to Arab News, Pakistani expatriates in the kingdom sent home $5.7 billion in July-March 2021.
Minister visits broadcasting school
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood also visited Saudi Broadcasting School “IEN” in Riyadh. Saudi Education Minister Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh and Vice Minister for Education Dr Saad Bin Saud Al Fahid received Mr Mahmood at the school and briefed him on the state-of-the-art live facility established in 15 days to cope with learning losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Mahmood appreciated the IEN live broadcasting school systems, quality of content and its delivery and reach out mechanism.
“It was decided that both IEN Saudi Arabia and TeleSchool Pakistan will engage and share experiences, processes and technologies to boost distance learning education in order to provide quality education in rural areas,” the press release said.