KUWAIT: A recent study by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) indicated work permit issuance should be restricted for one complete year to weed out marginal labor and utilize skilled labor already in the country by allowing transfers. The study stressed that the interior ministry as well as departments related to deporting loose and violating laborers must intensify their efforts as well to resolve the issue of travel bans on those whose residency permits have expired.
The study, published by Al-Anbaa Arabic daily yesterday, made several recommendations including to issue decisions regulating work permits for small and medium projects, as the number of workers in them is estimated at 79,000 registered under only 4,000 small projects, in addition to deciding the actual needs of the marketplace through a work plan to estimate the need in a way that gradually increases as activities increase. All profession estimations should be automatically entered for all approved professions at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The study said it is necessary to stop issuance of work permits for professions where a Kuwaiti who is seeking work for the same job is available, and ask all ministries and concerned authorities to monitor workers on government contracts, because it is necessary to benefit from workers on expired contracts and shift them to valid ones instead of bringing in new workers.
The study said the issue of bedoons (stateless) should be dealt with by allowing priority of appointment for them in professions Kuwaitis do not wish to work in, such as co-op cashiers and security guards.
The study issued recommendations to reduce the number of workers who have low qualifications, which represents a large portion of workers, such as at gas stations, shopping centers, car parks, taxi drivers, cleaning worker supervisors and guards on government contracts, and encourage youth to take up these jobs by increasing labor support of some jobs that are shunned by Kuwaitis, such as working in production lines in factories and others, to make them more attractive.
The study said young people must be motivated and made aware and directed to work in the industrial and agricultural sectors through caring for them and removing obstacles to enable them to create and run developmental projects and make sure they endure, especially those with secondary or lower academic qualifications.
It said Kuwaitis in government and private sectors must be allowed to work in more than one job and motivate them in case they work in low-paying jobs in order to increase the individual's income and reduce the number of residents, as the case is in many developed countries. A recommendation was also made to allow Kuwaitis to work independently and in light jobs to replace marginal labor as much as possible, and provide places and support for Kuwaitis, such as in selling from vending stands and customs clearance.
The study said all state departments must tackle the population imbalance, as the issue is not PAM's problem alone; rather it is a joint role between concerned areas including the interior and commerce ministries, among others.
The study asked all state departments to cooperate in order to remedy the population imbalance, bearing in mind that the imbalance is not in the increase in expat labor, as the state is carrying out development projects according to the state's development plan, and these projects require an increase in the number of workers.
The imbalance is rather in expats' qualifications and the market's need for some specialties that can be replaced with national labor, along with the possibility of letting some residents go through the use of modern technology and advanced systems. Finally, the presence of expat workers in residential areas and having labor residences - especially for "bachelors" - in citizens' residential areas creates social and demographic problems, according to the study.
It said Kuwait seeks through the development plan and the New Kuwait 2035 vision to reform Kuwait's economy and remedy the population imbalance. The study found an imbalance between those looking for jobs and the needs of the marketplace, leading to unemployment.
Expat salaries and wages
As for the distribution of residents according to salary, the study said 71 percent of the total number of expats (1.2 million) have salaries varying between less than KD 60 and KD 359, as the great majority have salaries between KD 60 and KD 119 (500,000), a salary of KD 120 to KD 179 for around 324,000 expats, KD 189 to KD 239 for around 146,000 residents and a salary of KD 300 to KD 359 for around 96,500 expats.
Expats receiving salaries higher than KD 480 number around 231,800, and those with salaries between KD 420 and KD 479 are around 55,000. About the distribution of Indian workers, the study said Indians are concentrated in the wholesale trade, restaurants and hotels with 206,700 employees, followed by agriculture and fishing with 89,300.
Allowing students to work
It was recommended that Kuwaiti students be allowed to work part - and full-time from the age of 16 as the case is in many developed countries, which will result in the following:
* Reduction in the number of marginal labor on low salaries and those with higher academic qualifications.
* Encourage new generations to work for the private sector through practice and gaining experience.
* Enhance the level of practical and scientific qualifications and improve students' skills by working in the private sector in various jobs.
* Discover new skills and learn commitment and importance of work, along with strengthening self-confidence and contributing to job readiness in various work sectors.
2.92 million total workforce
The study said the total workforce in Kuwait is 2.92 million distributed over 1.7 million employees in the private sector, 464,400 in the government sector and around 744,000 in the domestic sector. It said the distribution of manpower according to countries is as follows: 35 percent from Arab countries, 57 percent from Asia, 4 percent from the Gulf region and 1 percent from Africa.
Manpower according to professions
The study revealed the distribution of manpower in Kuwait according to professions as follows:
181,000 in scientific and technical professions.
724,400 in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing.
201,300 in sales.
116,900 office workers.
223,500 in services.
891,800 production workers, along with workers in related professions, workers operating transport vehicles and ordinary laborers.
479,400 Egyptian workers
The study said the number of Egyptian workers is 479,400, most of whom are concentrated in restaurants and hotels with 221,900, 64,000 in construction, 22,300 in manufacturing industries, 43,200 in social services, 28,800 in finance and real estate, 35,500 in electricity, water and gas and 30,800 in agriculture and fishing. It said 79 percent of Egyptian workers receive salaries of less than KD 360, and around 21 percent receive salaries over KD 360. It said 82 percent of Egyptian residents have secondary school or lower certificates, while 18 percent have a diploma or higher degrees.