The Kurdish Globe
By Sleman Tashan
High expectations and low skill levels, as well as fewer benefits in the private sector, are among major factors forcing job seekers to seek employment in the public sector. An employment official says the degree of unemployment is not as high as that of lethargy.
Ahmed Karim, an economics graduate, has been waiting for the government to offer him a job since graduating two years ago. He is not interested in the opportunities available in the private sector.
"After 16 years of education, I am not ready to work as a clerk in a supermarket," said Karim.
Job vacancies are published every day in newspapers and magazines, many of which require certain skills and experience or language skills, such as Arabic, English or Turkish.
So while there are many employment opportunities in Kurdistan, those looking for jobs either lack the required skills, qualifications and experience or are not willing to take the jobs.
The unwillingness of locals to take such jobs, in a booming economy that needs workers in the service sector, has led to a high demand for foreign labor to fill these vacancies. Many restaurants, shopping malls and cleaning service companies are staffed by Asian workers.
Anwar Kawa, director of Erbil Employment and Vocational Training, says a large number of vacancies are registered in his directorate every day, but a major problem is that job seekers lack the qualifications and skills, and will not accept certain jobs or low salaries.
In the three months of this year, 4,500 people applied for jobs at Kawa's directorate, but it only had 484 job openings.
Of those, 617 of the job seekers were contacted and informed about vacancies, out of which 538 refused to take the jobs. Only 79 accepted the job offers.
"Here, we have lethargy rather than unemployment," Kawa told The Kurdish Globe. He believes a mid-income job is better than staying unemployed.
Last year, the government hired 25,000 workers, and reports claim it will hire 40,000 more this year. However, this is not enough to provide jobs for all the fresh graduates.
As the number of universities and colleges in Kurdistan increases, it increases the number of highly educated unemployed. Because the new graduates have no work experience, and many don't speak a second language, they face challenges finding jobs. Many employers now require workers to speak a second language.
Dr. Wasfi Qahwachi, dean of the College of Administration and Economics at Salahaddin University, believes that more than 70 percent of the university's students do not speak a second language, and the reason is that they are only after a degree, rather than acquiring skills.
Recently, Kurdish Parliament started working on the Pension and Social Security Law 39 of the year 1971, with the objective of guaranteeing similar benefits for workers in the private and public sectors.
Civil servants currently get a wide range of benefits from the government. Providing similar benefits to workers in the fast-growing private sector could significantly lower unemployment in Kurdistan.