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Kuwait encourages citizens’ employment in private sector Long-held mentality of security in govt jobs finally changing

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 3, (KUNA): The State of Kuwait, along with other regional countries, encourages citizens’ employment in the private sector as part of a strategy to realize sustainable development where this sector acts as the main motive. Meanwhile, the long-held mentality of seeking security in the government sector is finally changing. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), in this in-depth and elaborate news feature, sheds light on role of nationals serving in the private sector, and their potentials to lead it, and thus play a pivotal role in the economic development process, strategically aimed at turning Kuwait into a lucrative international-regional business hub. The State had taken strides in realm of citizens’ employment in the private sector till 2009, when ripples of the global crisis reached Kuwait, prompting many mainly-youth serving in the private sector to shift to government jobs. The crisis had nudged the Kuwaiti government to scramble into action, devising plans and taking measures designed to tackle excessive employment in the public sector, encouraging youth to return to the private sector through diverse incentives and allotting special financial support to this sector. A leading figure deeply involved in the citizens’ employment process is Fawzi Al-Majdali, Secretary-General of the Governmental Manpower and Restructuring Program (GMRP), whose department is tasked with training national labor, nominating employees in the private sector, specifying proportion of national workers in non-governmental companies and supporting small enterprises. The GMRP, as a result of the 2009 crisis, decided to financially support the citizens who were laid off by the companies badly hit by the recession — in addition to funds allocated for graduates.

Allowances Number of male and female citizens who received the social and children allowances, till October, reached 57,296. Social allowances, disbursed between 2001 till last October, reached KD 1.9 billion, and number of those who received financial support while seeking jobs stood at 29,988. According to the program statistics, covering the period between 2004 and October 31, the apparatus trained 29,524 cadres and 16,456 of private sector personnel. Moreover, the program had prepared three draft resolutions for the government, setting proportion of national staff in non-governmental companies since 2002. Al-Majdali indicated at a resolution, issued in 2003, for securing 8,000 jobs, another in 2005 for creating 14,000 job opportunities and the 2008 resolution, execution of which began in March 2010, aimed at finding 12,000 works per annum. Affirming that the State policy has resulted in increasing number of citizens working in the private sector, Al- Majdali said figure of those personnel reached 83,446 till end of the past year. Number of those hired in the private sector, last year, amounted to 14,000 compared to only 1,600 in 2001. The current medium-term plan, effective as of 2010, aims to hire 14,000 citizens in the private sector and 8,000 in the public sector. Tarek Al-Sultan, Chairman and Managing Director of Agility, said the company, currently with more than 100 enterprises across the globe, mainly depends on the national cadres. The company department in charge of the Kuwaiti personnel affairs has affirmed in its reports that the employed citizens enjoy high potentials of creativity, pondering and finding solutions under stress. Al-Sultan urged the young citizens to seek jobs in the private sector or create their own companies “for this is the realm to prove themselves and make innovations.” He urged the government to float new economic enterprises to absorb mushrooming number of jobs’ seekers.

Fawz Al-Naqi, Chairman of Kuwait Industries Company, said the State of Kuwait, through its development scheme, is seeking to find work for the Kuwaiti cadres, as part of the approach of transforming Kuwait into an attractive center for enterprise. Kuwaiti citizens have proven their capacities in both sectors but they need more experience to enhance productivity, he said, also emphasizing the need to spread awareness of necessity of working. He eyed with scorn some civil servants of very low productivity in the government sector, adopting the wrongful odd concept that the “salary will be paid at the end of the month. “It is high time to change such culture, particularly considering the fact that the state has not been slack with regard of developing human potentials through training courses held throughout the year, adding to the financial burden of the state budget.” He called for creation of a special apparatus to monitor citizens’ work output, noting that many Kuwaitis have occupied senior and sensitive posts locally and abroad. Also in this vein, KUNA’s correspondent in Washington wrote: Generation after generation, working for the public sector does not seem to be as popular as it used to be in the past for various reasons the youth tend to be aware of. Young Kuwaitis have always rushed to work for the public sector right after they graduate for reasons such as lifelong job security, not minding that they might be paid less for high skills they have. But now the gap between public and private sector job security is narrower than before and it seems that people have come to realize that as they progress in their careers, their salaries are less than relatively new employees in the private sector. Dana Al-Bustan, a Kuwaiti student studying finance in San Diego State University, told KUNA that her dream is to work for the private sector once she graduates. “I want to work for the private sector for a year then I want to pursue my post graduate studies,” she said.

Reason
As for her reason behind choosing the private sector, Al-Bustan said that it has more diverse fields for a person to choose from and “I can also learn a lot and benefit from working in the private sector in acquiring new skills.” She affirmed that “despite the insecurity of the private sector it is worth taking that risk because life is all about taking risks whether we want to or not.” For his part, Mishari Al-Sahli, who is studying journalism in California state university of Northridge, told KUNA that he wants to work in the private sector especially that “I am fluent in English and want to work in a field where they appreciate that fact and I can practice my English.” He added that in the private sector he can enjoy more being a journalist as there is wider freedom to write what you want and it “appreciates the hard work and passion one has for their job.” Another Kuwaiti student, Fahad Al- Saghan, who is studying industrial engineering in Philadelphia also wants to work in the private sector after he graduates, saying “there is more interest in your skills in the private sector and one can prove himself there.” He added that “unlike the government sector, where it all depends on connections and who you know not even taking into consideration your GPA or talents.” For his part, Talal Qadoumi who is studying in the University of Miami is another example of the Kuwaiti students who wants to work in the private sector after he graduates. He told KUNA that he wants to work at a place where he does not just sit behind his office and do administrative work. “Even after I graduate I want to work somewhere where I will continue to learn and acquire new skills,” he said. He added that “I hope to work in the private sector where they would appreciate the hard work and get promoted according to that and your excellence in skills not just depending on the work ladder and number of years of your employment to be promoted whether one is worth that promotion or not.” “The public sector seems to be more frustrating and restricting if you are looking to learn new skills and improve yourself,” he stressed

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