Juice shop assistants or shawarma guys are not typical career choices for young Kuwaitis, but many of them have shown they have an appetite for success in marginal industries, amid increasingly loud cries to address the demographic imbalance in Kuwait. Abdulaziz Al Jaddi, a volunteer with the Al Salam Association for Humanitarian Action, said he was proud to work in any job on his homeland even in filling gasoline at a petrol station.
“We Kuwaitis passed through crises and showed how dependable and credible we are. To those who question Kuwaitis’ attitude to work, I say Kuwaitis are dependable and the brutal invasion of Kuwait was a testimony to that. And now amid the COVID-19 crisis, Kuwaitis had a great role in the quarantine facilities, worked in co-operative societies, and elsewhere. Under Kuwaitisation, Kuwaitis are able to work in every profession,” he told Al Anba newspaper.
Mohammad Al Bureikan, a member of the Al Salam Humanitarian Society, said Kuwaitis have proven themselves in all crises. “Currently, under the scorching sun, we distribute approximately 16,000 meals per day to people stricken by the coronavirus crisis and lost their jobs. I do drive a truck right now,” he proudly said.
Ashour Salih said, “For me, there is honor in every job, but every good citizen works according to his skills and education.” Badr Al Fadl added, “It is our duty to work and exert ourselves to raise our own standards and to be of service to the country.”
Abdul Rahman Al Karim, echoed these sentiments and said, “What a great honor to be enjoying the fruits of honest work while setting an example for our fellow citizens.”
Kuwaiti labor reform in full steam
Around 23,000 Kuwaitis enter the labor force every year. Historically, close to 80 percent of those have entered the public sector, favoring the job security it provides, lower working hours, and higher entry-level compensation. This has exacerbated the strain on government expenditures, with the wage and compensation bill representing more than 50 percent of the total budget in the 2016/17 fiscal year.
Labor market reform is now a key pillar in Kuwait’s Economic and Financial Sustainability Plan.