Saturday, 8 June 2013

Tough Love.

Have you heard of Tough Love?  It's a phrase usually associated with parenting, where parents attempt to cope with, and hopefully rein in, the behavior of their wayward children through the application of firm boundaries strengthened by firm resolve and follow through on sticking to their guns.  Basic parenting really.

I get a sense that someone in Saudi hierarchy has heard of the Tough Love concept and has decided to implement it on the local populace.   Expats affected are simply fall out from the process.

The Hierarchy are busy setting up technical training centers so Saudi's can replace expats in  trade jobs such as plumbers, electricians, hospitality and hair dressing.  Youth are being encouraged to participate which, I gather, a lot are happy to do initially - it beats hanging round doing nothing.  The drop off rate though, according to a training bloke I met, is quite high.   However, despite that, feedback from the folks running a plastics center I visited is quite positive for students who stick around.

Hearing news that Saudi's were being trained for trades reminded me of a local radio station I was listening to one evening a couple of years back, where the guest presenter was saying how important it was for Saudi's to learn basic skills, like how to use a screwdriver, so they can do their own repairs around the home.  I do recall laughing when the presenter said that most blokes round here don't even know what a screwdriver looks like.  I'm guessing trade training centers are going to change that!

Women are also going to know how to handle a few tools as factories have been ordered to hire women, feminizing roles that used to be the domain of men, and mostly expat men at that.  This is, apparently, going great guns with local women now on the production line for cars, and vegetables and all manner of other industries and loving it.

Word has it that the unemployed need to start being grateful for the opportunities being given.  Saudization and the recent 'illegal expat sweep' is effectively turfing a few expats to create work space for the high number of unemployed locals, and those who keep turning down jobs, especially if they are collecting Hafiz (the Saudi equivalent of the Dole), will not be looked favorably upon.

Companies have expressed frustration at Saudi's who, once they land a job, only stick around getting paid for the training period and then decide to bugger off.  I'm not sure how the Hierarchy have decided to deal with this yet, but something is in the wind.  Workplace training has been implemented at most companies because it has been recognized that Saudi's need the extra, on the job training before they can effectively replace current expats.  However, as one manager told me, no amount of skill training can change the attitude to work that most arrive at the desk with.

Maids are also getting harder to come by unless you're prepared to pay the increased price though, if you ask me, it's a ploy to slowly phase out maids so housewives can be housewives like they are in the rest of the world.

Sometimes it looks as though this Tough Love attitude is directed at the local populace, mainly via employment strategies - a sort of 'we're doing everything we can to make work available for you, now you get off your butt and run with the opportunities'.  But sometimes I wonder if it's the conservative, backward looking bunch that are really behind the changes being driven, the thinking being once people are working and earning and on a roll living productive lives the idea of going backwards will not be palatable, and anyone attempting to force backward steps will be turfed fairly quickly by the power of forward motion. That's my conspiracy theory, anyway.

Of course, one also wonders if all this activity has anything to do with the rumour circulating that the Saudi golden years aren't going to last as long as initially thought.  Time to harden up, as we say in NZ.  Hence my impression someone in Saudi has decided to exercise some Tough Love.

Ka Kite,

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