On 27 June 2016, IOM Kuwait conducted a research launch and consultation for fifteen government officials from the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) on the effect of social networks on Kuwait’s labour market.
Main findings of the study showed that the misuse of social networks, known as informal ties between workers and their respective family and friends in the country of origin, can facilitate the recruitment of unskilled foreign workers as well as be a platform used for conducting visa trading transactions. In addition, social networks can contribute to an increased mismatch in skills of foreign labour and the Kuwait labour market, where workers can get a job that does not match their skill set simply because the intermediary, that is, person in their social network, is able to persuade the employer to hire the unqualified worker.
The key recommendation from the research study included the establishment of a new foreign workers permit system that is built around increasing employment of Kuwaiti nationals, gradually decreasing the number of unskilled foreign workers, and transforming Kuwait’s economy from labour intensive to capital intensive.
To establish the new permit system, the Government of Kuwait (GoK) should conduct a national labour market assessment as well as profile its national labour. Using the results of these assessments, the GoK will have the data to update its national training and education strategies, in an effort to match skills of national labour with labour market needs. Participants voiced their support for the recommendations as they address critical challenges to the Kuwait labour market.
Iman Ereiqat, IOM Kuwait Chief of Mission stated that “This study by IOM 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.”
This research was conducted through in-depth interviews with employers, employees, members of the employees’ social networks, community representatives and government officials, in Kuwait and two Asian labour sending countries.
This research study was carried out under the Joint Program for the Support of PAM that is implemented by IOM, UNDP and ILO. The Join Program is implemented under the guidance and funding of the General Secretariat for the Supreme Council for Planning and Development.