In a bid to create more jobs for the local population, Kuwait is all set to make more than 3,100 foreign public sector staff redundant during the current fiscal year, according to reports.
Bowing down to social and economic pressures, the move was made to reshuffle the country's expat workforce and create more opportunities for locals in the public sector. The finance ministry had instructed the ministries and departments to prepare lists of foreign nationals to be cut in January this year. The Civil Service Commission announced that 1,629 expatriate workers were fired from government jobs this year as compared to the 666 that were let go in 2017.
The oil-rich country relies heavily on foreign workers to perform low-paying and strenuous jobs in sectors such as construction and services. While foreigners make up 69 percent of Kuwait's 3.8 million population, the pressure to limit these numbers has been growing among some Kuwaitis who argue that too many workers are a burden on the state.
The locals claim that instead of bringing in foreigners, Kuwait should be trying harder to cut unemployment among its own nationals. In the public sector, Kuwaitis make up for 76.1 percent of the workforce.
"Kuwait is keen to regulate the labour market because of the imbalance in the demographics," Social Affairs and Labour Minister Thikra Al-Rashidi told Reuters, adding that the number of foreigners in Kuwait had increased 12.4 percent between 2008 and 2012.
"We have respect for all the expatriates who have participated in the labour market and contributed to the development of Kuwait," Thikra added that there was an excess of unskilled "marginal" workers who were not contributing to the economy in a positive way.
According to the latest statistics, an alarming 12,000 Kuwaitis remain unemployed in a country that guarantees employment to all its citizens. An average of 30,000 fresh graduates produced annually in Kuwait battle the reality of queuing for jobs coupled with the challenges in the labour market.
Recently, the Ministry of Education had also announced that 2,000 teaching jobs in public schools in an attempt to bring in new teaching methods and renovate Kuwait's public education system. In the private sector, the government has decided to train at least 3,000 Kuwaitis, who will replace foreigners working mainly in sectors of management, information and communication, according to reports.