January 10, 2023

IT Staffing Solutions To Recruitment Challenges

How To Overcome Key IT Recruitment Challenges in Saudi Arabia


How To Overcome Key IT Challenges in Saudi Arabia

If you know the Saudi Arabian job market, you probably know how challenging it can be to find, hire and retain the right people for open roles, including job opportunities in information technology (IT). This blog post will look at these recruitment challenges and discuss how IT staffing solutions can help you overcome them.


The New Nitaqat Framework Under Vision 2030

Saudisation refers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) requirement that Saudi nationals comprise a specific percentage of any company’s employees. This is not a new concept, as the government mandated it since 2011. However, it has been revised and instituted in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 as the Saudi Nationalisation Scheme or Nitaqat.

The new Nitaqat framework is one of the government’s strategies to hit its 2030 targets of reducing the unemployment rate to 7% and increasing women’s participation in the job market to 30%. Therefore, the government has imposed higher Saudi national employment quotas for private companies in Saudi Arabia.

The government classifies enterprises according to their Saudi national employment quotas, and Platinum is the highest classification a company can aspire to reach. Organisations which have a higher classification get exclusive benefits like unlimited work visa renewals.

However, to get to Platinum status, a company must hit high quotas. As a case in point, that’s 56% for a small information technology company. Specific quotas vary depending on an organisation’s industry, economic activity and company size.

Under the new Nitaqat scheme, ‌the government has made some roles available only to Saudi nationals (e.g., sales jobs), but set a 25% minimum localization threshold in the IT sector. The following are some of the roles where this threshold applies:

  • Computer programmer
  • Computer engineer
  • Software engineering specialist
  • Software development specialist
  • Business analyst
  • Documentation specialist (programs and systems)
  • Systems analyst
  • Technical support specialist

Such minimum localisation percentages will apply to all companies where five or more persons work in IT and other IT-relevant roles.


Increasing Levies on Foreign Employees

Employers in Saudi Arabia may now find it more costly to employ foreign expatriates, just as it has become more expensive for foreign expatriates to work in Saudi Arabia. This is due to the levies the government imposes on foreign employees.

Employers have to pay a levy for every foreign employee it has. Aside from that, if there is more than one foreign employee for every Saudi national employee (i.e., the ratio of foreign employees to Saudi nationals employed by the company is greater than 1:1), the employer has to pay an additional levy for every non-Saudi national they employ.

Meanwhile, foreign expatriates working in Saudi Arabia must pay a fee for every one of their dependents before they can renew their IQAMA or residence permit. The rate is SAR 400 per dependent per month, so that’s SAR 4800 per dependent per year; this is 300% greater than the old levy rate of SAR 100 per dependent per month.


The IT Recruitment Challenge

The changes in Saudi Arabia regarding expatriate employment mean one thing. As much as possible, businesses in Saudi Arabia must fill open IT roles with Saudi nationals.

They must meet their Saudi national employment quotas. If they don’t, they will be unable to employ or retain foreign employees anyway, as they can lose their visa privileges, among other government incentives necessary to employ foreign expatriates.

Prioritising Saudis will also save them money in the long run helping them avoid unnecessary fees and fines. In short, private enterprises in Saudi Arabia must reduce their expat employee numbers and employ more Saudi nationals. A report by City & Guilds Group shows that 86% of employers in Saudi Arabia expect a reduction in their expatriate employee numbers.

Employing locals should be advantageous in the long run, especially if a company’s customers are Saudi nationals. However, this doesn’t resolve the short- to mid-term skills gaps between what skills a company needs and the skills available in the local jobs marketplace.


The Skills Gap

The skills gap is apparent in the technology sector. The government is determined to transform Saudi Arabia into a technology hub, spending tens of billions of dollars on technological innovations and developments.

However, this also means the demand for skilled information technology employees outstrips the available supply. The shortage shouldn’t be too drastic in entry-level roles. This is because the government has been aggressively realigning higher education to produce graduates well-versed in computer technology and other in-demand IT skills. Companies are also continuously upskilling their tech employees.

The problem arises when someone needs to hire mid-level to senior-level tech employees.

Typically, it is practical to fill these roles in-house, from the company’s pool of trained and skilled employees. However, retaining trained employees can be challenging when businesses have to compete against the lure of job offers from their competitors as well as other IT companies and even attractive government IT posts.


How IT Staffing Solutions Can Help

Working with a recruitment firm, particularly an IT staffing services company, can help private organisations in Saudi Arabia cope with the tech skills gap they may be currently experiencing.


1.    Find Tech Employees From Abroad to Fill the Gap and Train Locals

In the interim, while local employees are upskilling to match the skills required in more advanced tech roles, companies in Saudi Arabia rely mainly on foreign expatriates. Especially when it comes to senior tech roles.

A technology recruitment services firm can help you find technically skilled foreign employees willing to work for a fixed period in Saudi Arabia. While in KSA, they will train your Saudi national employees so that, when they leave, you will have a clear succession plan in place.


2.    Find Remote Employees

IT staffing solutions can create remote teams to augment your workforce as and when required.

Remote teams can help you overcome foreign visa restrictions, as you won’t have to bring employees to KSA. Remote staffing will also help you benefit from a geographically boundless talent pool, increasing your chances of finding skilled employees who will help accelerate your growth.


3.    Implement a Contract-to-Hire Arrangement

With a contract-to-hire arrangement, your company can augment your workforce with expatriate employees without impacting your foreign worker-to-Saudi national employee ratio or skewing your Saudi national employment quotas.

Your IT staffing solutions partner will arrange everything, including your new hires’ visas. Thus, contract-to-hire employees will not affect your Nitaqat status.


4.    Find Saudi Nationals to Employ

Finally, your staffing partner can help you meet your Saudi national employment quotas. The recruitment services agency will do all the groundwork to find you excellent Saudi nationals to employ. It will do the job posting, screening and short-listing. All you will need to do is interview the shortlisted candidates and make hiring decisions.


Overcome Recruitment Challenges in KSA

The new Nitaqat framework imposes higher Saudi national employment quotas for businesses operating in Saudi Arabia. This is in line with the country’s Vision 2030 goals of reducing unemployment and increasing women’s participation in the workforce.

Working with an IT staffing solutions provider will help you ensure compliance and overcome recruitment challenges. Specifically, it will enable you to fill short- to medium-term skills gaps, form remote teams to accelerate your growth, It will also help source qualified Saudi nationals to fill your open roles to meet your Nitaqat quotas.

AIQU is a technology recruitment consultant specialising in helping companies fill open tech roles in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Contact us so that we can help you meet your staffing requirements in the region. Follow us on on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest news, vacancies and trends surrounding the Kingdom as well as in the MENA region.