Unemployed Kuwaitis unwilling to join private sector

Government survey reveals many are still determined to get a public sector job



More than half (58 per cent) of unemployed Kuwaitis are reportedly unwilling to work in the private sector.

Kuwait Times cited government labour statistics released this week as suggesting that efforts to encourage citizens to work in the private sector through matching stipends and other benefits had failed.

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of all nationals in the country work in the public sector, according to the Labour Force Survey 2015 conducted by Kuwait’s Central Statistical Bureau.

The country guarantees work to all of its citizens under Article 41 of its constitution. Nationals also cannot be fired except under extreme circumstances.

Shorter working hours, often less demanding work, more public holidays, benefits and perks make the public sector more attractive for Kuwaitis, the publication reported.

Thousands of Kuwaiti oil and gas workers began a strike on Sunday to protest against a government plan for public sector pay reforms.

The survey found that 30.7 per cent of workers in the public sector earned KD 2,000 or more a month, compared to 16.6 per cent in the private sector. At the bottom of the scale, 14 per cent of Kuwaiti private sector workers were found to earn less than KD 600, compared to 1.4 per cent of public sector workers.

The country’s unemployment rate for nationals reached 4.7 per cent last year, while total unemployment stood at 2.2 per cent. Around 1.8 per cent of non-Kuwaitis were found to be unemployed.

Almost 95 per cent of workers in Kuwait’s private sector are expats but the country plans to reduce its reliance on foreign workers.

Planned reforms aim to alter the country’s population mix from 69 per cent expatriate to no more than 50 per cent.

According to the survey, the median wage for expat workers in the country was KD 120 ($380) compared to KD 1,113 ($3,691) for locals.

The sample included 5,286 families and 220 groups of workers housed by institutions.