A new initiative called Taqdeer will offer support to private organisations employing Bahraini nationals, including help to pay their employees' health insurance.

The move, from the Bahraini Labour Fund (Tamkeen), is part of the Labour Authority’s plan to boost nationalisation and aims to reward enterprises that exceed their targeted number for Bahraini employees.

Eligible enterprises for the Taqdeer scheme will receive a financial grant, which can be used for paying expenses related to municipality services fees, electricity bills, commercial registration and social insurance fees, and Bahraini employees’ health insurance, as well as their training and development.

Academic lecturer and writer Ali Al-Aradi is not concerned that the scheme might encourage organisations to employ Bahraini nationals simply to meet quotas. He said: “I think the Taqdeer scheme is another great product introduced by Tamkeen. This initiative will reward and recognise the employers who have a good sense of social responsibility.

“I don’t see any disadvantages – the scheme won’t encourage organisations to employ nationals with the wrong experience and qualifications just so they can meet their quota and gain financially, because this grant will be given mainly to support the investment in Bahrainisation, such as funding social insurance contributions, medical insurance fees and learning and development expenses – including academic studies such as Bachelors or Master’s degrees for Bahrainis.”

Dr Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, chief executive of Tamkeen, said: “By launching this initiative, we are seeking to support the private sector and strengthen its position as a key driver of economic growth. Business owners will benefit from Taqdeer as it will help them cover a big portion of their expenses.”

Bahrainis already make up a large number (66 per cent) of the employees in the financial services sector, and the Bahrainsation rate reached up to 99.04 percent in some organisations in the oil and gas sector in 2015, but more nationals still need to be employed in other sectors.

“We still have a skills gap in some sectors such as ICT, telecommunications, healthcare, transport and logistics, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, and retail,” said Al-Aradi.

Labour and Social Development Minister, Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, said in a recent press statement that 1,883 Bahrainis found jobs in March 2017, compared to 22,000 during 2016. The average monthly rate of recruitment is about 2,000, according to the minister.

“Today’s Bahraini jobseekers need to focus more on the growing sectors,” said Al-Aradi. “I can see that from the market trends. If nationals hold qualifications for jobs for which there are no vacancies, they still can move to the growth sectors if they study additional professional qualifications, some of which are already supported financially by the Tamkeen Professional Certifications Scheme,” he added.

The Taqdeer scheme is likely to alter the Bahraini labour market. “It will enrich the labour market in the Kingdom of Bahrain with skilled nationals of high calibre, and will build a strong foundation for development by the replacement of foreign workers in the private sector,” said Al-Aradi.

“There are not currently enough jobs for the growing number of youth, and the private sector is largely dominated by expatriate workers from Southeast Asia, so this initiative is a positive for Bahrainis – especially the youth – because it will reduce unemployment among nationals.”

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