Expats in Kuwait 'fuelling influx of low-skilled labour', says study

Government-commissioned study claims expats use social networks to hire friends, family back home

Expats in Kuwait are contributing to an influx of low-skilled workers in the country by facilitating casual recruitment of additional labour in the form of friends and family, it has been claimed.

Expat workers are facilitating speedy visa transactions for acquaintances and family members from their country of origin, and in doing so fuelling an increase of low-skilled labour to Kuwait, according to government-commissioned research.

A study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) analyses the impact of social networks on Kuwait’s labour market, Kuwait Times reported.

The study was conducted through interviews with employers, employees, members of employees’ social networks, community representatives and government officials in Kuwait and two Asian labour-sending countries.

It found expats are “misusing” social networks to persuade existing employers in Kuwait to hire their friends from back home even if they are under-qualified, leading to a “mismatch of skills” between incoming foreign labour and the Kuwait labour market, the newspaper reported.

For example, workers may be recruited solely because they know an intermediary who can use their influence to secure them a job even if it does not match their skill-set.

The study sets out recommendations to the Kuwaiti government, including establishing a new foreign worker permit system based on increased employment of Kuwaiti nationals to weed out unskilled foreign labour.

However, extensive analysis of the labour market in Kuwait is required before such a permit system could be brought into force, the newspaper reported.

Iman Ereiqat, the IOM’s chief of mission, Kuwait, was quoted as saying: “This study has provided an innovative alternative system to estimate the demand for foreign workers.

“This will help relevant stakeholders to develop mechanisms to efficiently manage Kuwait’s labour market and its composition.”

Kuwait has already proposed a number of tough measures to cut the number of expats. For example, government departments were asked at the beginning of the year to lay off all “unnecessary” expats, while police forces have been conducting raids to identify and deport illegal expats in the country.

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