The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have twice as many jobs than there are nationals between the ages of 15 and 64, says a Citi report.
“Official statistics show that there are many more jobs available in each of the six GCC countries than there are nationals of working age. Although this varies from country to country, there are just enough jobs in Oman for the entire working-age population, but over 10 jobs per person in Qatar. In principle, full employment should, in all cases, be the norm,” Farouk Soussa, Middle East Chief Economist, Citi, said in a report.
However, less than 50 per cent of Bahrainis, Saudis and Omanis of working age are actually officially employed, and this number is only just over 60 per cent for the three other GCC countries, the report said.
Citi expects to see an even greater push by GCC countries to address the imbalances in their local labour markets.
“We do not believe it is the lack of jobs that’s a problem in the GCC, but the unsuitability of these jobs for large portions of the local population that keeps them out of work. While it is important to ensure that the population has the appropriate skills to do the jobs available, this is a necessary but insufficient condition to improve labour market participation in the GCC.”
A comprehensive overhaul of labour policies is required to raise the standard of pay and working conditions for all workers, create a competitive and flexible private sector labour market, reduce the disincentives for employers to hire locals by raising the cost of foreign labour, and reduce the inherent advantages of working in the public sector vis-à-vis the private sector, the report points out.