Contrary to what is often depicted by lawmakers the number of citizens employed in the public sector has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years.
New data shows that since 1999, over 81,000 Kuwaitis were added to the payroll in the government sector, which works out to an average of more than 4,000 nationals each year over the last two decades. In the same time period, the number of expatriates increased by 18,000, for an average increase of 900 a year, while the number of workers from the other five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states rose by about 84 a year.
An earlier report from the government’s Civil Service Commission showed that until July 2018 there were a total of 352,169 people employed in the public sector. Citizens made up around 76 percent of the employees (268,100), followed by expatriates who accounted for a little over 22 percent of staff (79,548), and GCC citizens who were roughly 2 percent of public sector workforce (4,521).
The report added that the implementation of the policy to replace expatriates by citizens does not necessarily mean the cessation of recruitment of expatriates in some rare specialties, which currently cannot be filled by the citizens because of insufficiency in academic and scientific qualifications covering some areas, such as teaching, medicine or nursing staff.
Over the past years, the employment rate in government agencies has increased for several reasons, most notably the creation of new government bodies and institutions, and tightening screws on fictitious employment in the private sector, prompting citizens to apply for government jobs.
However, the new report is unlikely to soothe the ruffles of lawmakers looking for 100 percent Kuwaitization of jobs in public sector, or to appease public sentiment worried about growing unemployment among young nationals.