Lack of Indian workers affects jewellery workshops in Saudi

Lack of Indian workers affects jewellery workshops in Saudi

Acute shortage of skilled Indian workers has forced around 400 jewellery workshops in Saudi Arabia to close and left 100 others struggling for survival.

Saudi investors said the spike in gold prices, absence of regulations and the entry of new traders had seen the sector grow to over 500 factories and workshops.

Indian workers are sought after in the local industry because of their skills, said Khaled Al-Amoudi, official with the Saudi Council of Chambers.

"It is very difficult to find skilled workers in the gold industry," Al-Amoudi quoted as saying by the Arab News.

Abdulghani Al-Muhanna, chairman of the gold and jewelry committee at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said most of the closed workshops had employed illegal workers, and had sought to benefit from high gold prices in recent years.
"We now have 100 gold workshops that employ about 5,000 foreign workers, but there are very few skilled workers in the industry following the Labour Ministry's decision to reduce the quota to 40 per cent," he said.

He said this was "insufficient" because of the high demand for skilled workers. "The nature of the gold and jewelry sector is different from other sectors. It needs skilled professional workers, otherwise investors and merchants will have to depend on neighbouring countries."

Following the implementation of new labour policy 'Nitaqat' in the country, it is mandatory for all Saudi companies to reserve 10 per cent of jobs for Saudi nationals. Many Indians, staying in the country illegally, were deported after the law came into effect last year.
Al-Muhanna said the government should now allow legal businesses to recruit more staff. While Al-Amoudi said the Labour Ministry has not yet responded to the grievances of investors.

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