Tough career choice facing young Kuwaitis

Published July 5th, 2011 - 08:02 GMT

As a new batch of university graduates prepares to join the job market, the option for Kuwaitis of choosing between government vs. private sector jobs seems to be resurfacing with a new vigor. The equilibrium between the private sector and government sector seems to have been disturbed lately after allegations of private sector employers' negligence towards employees. Although the latest labor legislation grants Kuwaiti state sector employees higher salaries and more benefits, it fails to mention p rivate sector employees.

The main advantages for Kuwaitis of working in the state sector are monetary, including allowances and bonuses as well as regular wage rises. The main disadvantages are the unchallenging work environment, the lack of competition, bureaucracy and the almost nonexistent workload which leaves room for breeding boredom and laziness. In the private sector, however, employees have a better chance of getting ahead in their careers, with greater transparency and less bureaucracy.

The head of the Kuwait Banks Union, Mansour Ashoor, believes that the business sector is no longer attractive to young Kuwaitis, especially given the latest labor laws from the government which neglect private sector employees. "The government is contradictory with its recent policies. It has been giving bonuses and allowances to all government employees, but is neglecting the private sector employees. Is this an invitation to the young to leave their jobs in the private sector and apply to work for the g overnment instead? Ashoor added that the tug of war between the private and government sectors is a game whose rules are set by the government. "The government succeeded in making a substantial number of Kuwaitis join the private sector when it started giving a monthly allowance to encourage the employees. It can sustain the equilibrium, but the issue doesn't appear to be a priority to the government yet," he argued.

He stressed on the fact that a big number of Kuwaiti youth choose the more challenging private sector because they are passionate about their careers. "The government should look into rewarding people with such a passion for work with laws that are encouraging for them. There is not enough support for private sector employees, especially since inflation is continuously rising," he added.

Last week, the head of the Civil Service Commission's (CSC) public relations department, Jassem Al-Ruwayes, revealed that the commission received more than 4,000 applications during the 12-day application period that started on June 17.

The Civil Services Commission will start sorting through the papers to direct applicants to the various government sector establishments and institutions within the next month," he stated.

Twenty-three-year-old Kuwaiti Dhari says he's applied to several private sector companies for jobs as well as the government sector, but ultimately settled on a government sector job. "I intend to continue my studies, and the private sector companies don't allow part-time graduate programs. I chose a government job so that I can work and study, and after I finish I may look into applying to a private sector company again," he explained. Dhari says that the waiting period between submitting his application for a state sector job and being notified that he had got one was more than six months.

Hamad, a 22-year old marketing graduate who got his degree at a private university, says that many opportunities in the private sector look promising, but most of the advice he receives encourages him to choose the government sector over the private.

"I'm choosing the private sector because it is challenging and I don't wish to work in a place that is not fulfilling for me career-wise. But many people speak of reforms in the government sector too. I would consider a government job if I could find one that' s suitable for my degree.

Today, thousands of new university graduates are preparing to join the workforce in Kuwait. With almost 2,000 fresh graduates from Kuwait University alone, the Dean of Admissions Dr Mathna Al-Refaei told the press that the concerned departments at the university have provided students with all the paperwork they need to apply for jobs or graduate school programs in and outside Kuwait.

"We believe strongly in the ability of the young to create a better future, and we are hopeful and optimistic that whatever their choice, they will contribute positively to the betterment of Kuwait," he said.

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