The government’s step to correct the labor market composition and its demographics is indeed a required one, but it must be well-organized and implemented in a humane manner, taking into account the culprits in this mess and not the expats. The government’s decision to end of services of expats who reached the age of 50 by March was not well received by many expats. This was bad news, especially for those who have worked here for many years.
Kuwaiti employees number 264,155 in the public sector workforce, while non-Kuwaitis number 83,371. So I do not see expats in this sector as a major problem because their percentage is moderate. On the other hand, Kuwaitis in the private sector number 65,604, with 1,335,684 non-Kuwaitis. This is where the issue becomes complicated. The Civil Service Commission revealed in its report of 2015 that expats in the government sector make up only 25 percent of the total number of employees. So we must consider the jobs being occupied in the private sector that are maybe causing the problem.
I know those who look at these figures find a big difference and clear imbalance in the population structure, but the solution is not to issue hasty and inhumane decisions. After all, we allowed this person to come to Kuwait and settle down with his family, so sudden moves like these are improper. Let us bear in mind that this is our mess and we have to fix it, but not at the expense of expats. Decisions must have certain requirements so as not to do injustice to expat workers.
The private sector comprises of large companies to small grocery shops and also companies who have contracts with the governments to do various jobs like cleaning services. I know that we will always need these services, but do we need such a large number of workers? According to studies, 56 percent of expatriate workers in Kuwait are working in jobs that are difficult for Kuwaitis to perform or replace, such as couriers, farmers, servants, drivers and other low-income jobs.
The total population of Kuwait is 4,262,125 people, with Kuwaitis making up 1,311,403 people and non-Kuwaitis 2,950,722. The state’s needs for employees, whether local or foreign, must rely on studies and information from the public and private sectors, so that estimated requirement figures will be set by the number of real projects, volume of work and the number and type of required labor in order to determine the actual necessity of the requested number compared to the work.
But unfortunately, we in Kuwait we see workers sitting in the streets waiting to be assigned work, a phenomenon that existed years ago and continues to exist without a radical solution. Given the actual labor market, we find that labor assessment is not done in accordance to accurate figures and studies. It should be prepared by human resource advisors and in the form of a scientific study.
The correction of the labor market composition and its demographics is important and essential to maintain the security of society, but it must have criteria to be fair for all. This issue has different and possibly negative consequences, therefore it must be dealt with cautiously.
By Muna Al-Fuzai