ISLAMABAD: The caretaker federal cabinet has approved 33 per cent increase in fee to $33 from $25 for verification of skills of Pakistani workforce by Saudi Takamol, official sources told Business Recorder.

On October 2, 2023, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training informed the Cabinet that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) had enforced the “Skills Verification Program” (SVP) from July 01, 2021, in order, to regulate its labour market.

After implementation of the Skills Verification Program in KSA, skills verification by Takamol Saudi Arabia, a duly authorised agency, became mandatory for the skilled workers, who intend to proceed to KSA for employment, including those belonging to Pakistan and other Asian countries’

PM highlights criticality of technical training programmes

Earlier, the Federal Cabinet had approved the Agreement between Takamol, of Saudi Arabia, and the National Vocational & Technical Training commission, Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, to implement the “skills Verification programme” for joint testing and certification of Pakistani candidates desirous of working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan is the first country with which Takamol Saudi Arabia has signed the agreement for joint certification and testing “skills Verification Program (SVP), by which Pakistani skilled youth may get the best employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia. The Agreement was signed by the Minister for Education on December 05, 2021.

Under the approved Agreement, the Takamol SVP fee was approved at $50 to be charged from candidates ($25 for Takamol SVP and $25 for NAVTTC Assessments). NAVTTC share was initially planned to be charged from the exchequer.

However, to avoid the costs, later on the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training allowed NAVTTC to charge Rs 4,000 (then equivalent to $ 25) from the candidates, in accordance with the approved agreement.

The Ministry noted that Saudi Arabia has now decided to put in place a uniform agreement and system for all the labour exporting countries, resulting in revision of roles and responsibilities of both organisations.

It was further informed that Takamol had written a letter on December 30, 2022 and had desired to make the revisions in the Appendix (1) and (2) of the Agreement, which required approval of the Federal Cabinet.

The key changes being made by Takamol are as follows: (i) Takamol - SVP fee collection mode and rates have been revised after redefining the roles and responsibilities of both the organisations.

Takamol SVP Fee has been proposed to be revised from $ 25 to $ 33 after enhancement of responsibilities, and Rupees equivalent of $17 as NAVTTC Assessment Fee from previously allowed $ 25 for the testing partners/ assessors’ thus making a total Fee of $50 per candidate (which is within the already approved amount under the signed agreement) and; (ii) The other changes are not major in nature. The revised respective Roles and Responsibilities after implementation of International Skills Verification Program (SVP) Portal (in all articles, clauses where required).

Federal Education and Professional Training Division presented the proposal before the Cabinet with the major changes in the appendices, i.e., revision in Takamol SVP fee from $25 to $33, b and other decisions therein, for approval, under the Article 10(5) of Saudi Takamol signed agreement.

It was further informed that the Law and Justice Division had conveyed that “the Services Agreement between Takamol and NAVTTC” had been examined along with Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 to the agreement.

Education Ministry stated that Appendix 1 merely proposes textual and procedural changes in the service level agreement; therefore it was to be examined by the referring Ministry at its own end.

As far as the Appendix 2 of the Services Level Agreement was concerned, it was stated that the only substantial change was made in the Appendix, regarding the payment of fees of exam/ test which is now to be collected by Takamol directly and not by NAVTTC, as was done in the past.

Education Ministry noted that the Law and Justice Division had vetted the proposed modifications from the legal point of view.

During the ensuing discussion, the Prime Minister emphasised that keeping in view the youth potential for earning billions of dollars’ the skills development of youth and export of skilled workforce is the top priority area to work in and all energies and resources must be used to achieve this critical goal.

The whole of government approach is needed for this purpose. Too many unskilled youth have been employed in the government offices. Special efforts are needed by the Ministries of Education, Overseas Pakistanis, Planning Foreign Affairs and Finance.

The Prime Minister stressed the need to work on war footing for the provision of appropriate skills to the people and ensure that Pakistani qualifications and curriculum are aligned with modern international standards and requirements, as well as, the requirements of the international job market.

He urged all concerned, especially Ministries of Overseas and Foreign Affairs to proactively explore better employment opportunities for skilled people in regions like Europe, Middle East, etc. He gave the example of Saudi Arabia, which needs large numbers of skilled workforce.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training was also directed to fully operationalise all technical and vocational training centres/ training entities across the country aiming to prepare one million skilled workforces.

Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training Division was asked to prepare a detailed presentation on in-country technical and vocational education and training facilities, with proposals for improvement, execution plan with timeline and budgetary requirements.

He directed that transparency must be ensured. Comprehensive proposals on initiatives to be taken will be discussed in a special meeting under the chair of Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development should prepare country/ region specific plans regarding manpower requirement, skills/trades in demand, operational standards, skill-set needs, testing and language requirements, etc.

Education Ministry was further directed to look into global best practices and to establish linkages with the local organizations running such skill development programs as Apna Vocational Training Program, Saylani Welfare Trust, etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Joe Oct 16, 2023 11:09am
"The caretaker federal cabinet has approved 33 per cent increase in fee to $33 from $25 for verification of skills of Pakistani workforce by Saudi Takamol," Translation: Some pockets will get filled deeper!
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