Bahraini jobs quota gets an overhaul
Businessmen have welcomed plans to eliminate the need for private sector companies to ensure a specific percentage of their workers are Bahraini.
Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan yesterday confirmed major changes to the Bahrainisation policy were in the pipeline following the success of training initiatives.
Describing the existing system as "unacceptable", he said the Bahrainisation percentage would be evaluated by the ministry to avoid placing difficult regulations on company owners and find opportunities for citizens working in the private sector.
"We really appreciate this step and we hope that it will help the market," said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce board member and Pearl and Gold Jewellery Committee chairman Mohammed Sajid.
"We are happy and willing to hire and train Bahrainis even at 20 per cent or even 50pc as long as they are available in the market, but when they are not then the regulations should not be forced on a business.
"The problem is that there are many industries that have not got a sufficient number of qualified Bahrainis working in the field, for example in the gold industry, there are just not enough Bahrainis to fulfil the percentage requirements and that is stunting the market."
Mr Sajid said businesses were also suffering from a lack of trained Bahrainis in certain sectors, but still had to hire them just to fulfil the required quota despite having no proper work to delegate to them.
"Otherwise, local businesses that are in industries with a lack of trained Bahrainis will have to shut down, which is really bad for the market," said Mr Sajid.
"This decision will help improve Bahrain businesses by allowing them to become more competitive in the international market."
Mr Sajid said the Bahrainisation percentage requirement had been discussed for years but claimed little action had taken to resolve it.
"We have had several meetings with the Labour Ministry and the minister about this topic and we have filed many requests to limit regulation but there has been no action," he said.
"I can say that the gold industry gets affected because there are not enough Bahrainis in the field, so in the end we hire more drivers or security than we need and mostly they just stay at home."
Mr Sajid explained the costs of hiring Bahrainis for the sole purpose of meeting the Bahrainisation percentage requirement were high and it made it hard for businesses to compete in the international market.
"Hopefully this decision means that in the near future industries will be able to compete in the international market," he said.