The recent government decisions regarding a complete return to normalcy to what it was before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic revealed the severe shortage of expatriate workers, which the Kuwaiti labor market suffers from in various sectors, especially in the field of indispensable professionals and craftsmen, and the demand for it is increasing in an unprecedented manner now.
Statistics indicate that there are tens of thousands of expatriate workers in the private and governmental sectors, who left the country permanently or voluntarily since the beginning of the epidemic until now, unlike those whose residencies expired while they were outside Kuwait, and they were unable to return again, but more than 80 percent of this category of employees registered in the private sector, where ‘craftsmen’ which took the lion’s share, and which affected the “pocket” of the citizen and resident, especially since it is related to the policy of supply and demand.
Amid the shortage of this labor, it is certain that the prices of services will increase; from the contractor who implements huge projects, and through the ordinary citizen wishing to build or renovate a house, to personal services such as tailors and others, in light of the noticeable radical change in the prices of providing services, compared to before the pandemic, which may reach almost double the cost.
As for the non-graduate 60-year-old expatriate workers, who were recently allowed to renew their residency by paying an annual fee of about 750 dinars (250 for the renewal of the work permit, and 500 for the insurance policy), the negative repercussions are biting hard and almost after more than one year it has become evident in many professions.
This period witnessed the departure of more than 7,000 workers and this has directly affected the market, and doubled the suffering due to shortage of labor, and the best evidence of this is the complaints of citizens due to the delay in receiving their “dishdashas” until after Eid al-Fitr, as hundreds of tailors who were 60-year-old and above have left the country especially those with experience, and those who are in the country are unable to cope with the workload and shops do not accept orders due to the unavailability of trained workers.
Regarding domestic workers, the specialist in this area of work, Bassam Al-Shammari, confirms that despite the decisions of public openness, the local market still suffers from a severe shortage of such workers by approximately 60 percent, explaining that offices suffer greatly from the lack of requests, despite the urgent need, as a result of the restriction of recruitment in addition to a number of countries where workers are reluctant to come to Kuwait.
Al-Shammari told Al-Jarida that Kuwait is still not attractive to domestic workers, as evidenced by the lack of memoranda of understanding on recruitment between Kuwait and the countries exporting this labor because nothing has happened in this regard for months.
He pointed out that there are several reasons for domestic workers to prefer traveling to neighboring countries without coming to Kuwait, including the speedy receipt of all financial dues before departure, the speedy settlement of labor disputes, as well as the decline in cases of financial claims related to the monthly salary or the end of service.
He continued saying, “On the other hand, Kuwait is witnessing a noticeable increase in the number of labor cases related to financial dues, as this reason is one of the most important factors for the reluctance of these workers to come to the country.”