Updated at 3pm with remarks from the study’s author.
If Qatar is serious about reducing its dependency on foreign labor, the country is going to have to begin grooming the majority of its local workforce – some 80 percent of it – for leadership positions, a new study has found.
Currently, expats account for 90 percent of Qatar’s working population. They also comprise 98 percent of the private sector, despite nationalization targets that require a fifth of these jobs to be filled by Qataris.
To tackle this imbalance, greater coordination between the private sector, educational institutions and the government is needed, said Oxford Strategic Consulting (OSC), which conducted the “Maximizing Qatari Talent” study.
The full report hasn’t been released yet, but the executive summary (embedded below) urges a number of changes to the approach companies are currently taking to woo Qataris, including:
- Understanding the motivations of the local workforce. According to the report, “Our research shows that Qataris are highly motivated by factors such as ‘serving the country’ and ‘contributing to society,’ but employers think they are motivated only by money and an easy life!”
- Revamp recruitment policies. Some 84 percent of employers here post job advertisements online, but only 4 percent of young Qataris said that’s where they search for jobs. Most (80 percent) said they prefer recommendations from personal or professional contacts instead.
- Work on retention. While companies should not to try to retain “low-value” individuals, the study recommends that firms work to keep individuals “enthused and engaged.” Good leadership is key to keeping employees in this state of mind, the report added.
Is it possible?
Whether an 80 percent leadership target is feasible remains to be seen. In countries with larger local workforces, such as the UK, leaders only account for about 8 percent of the population, the study said.
According to Qatar’s latest Labor Force Sample Survey, taken from the fourth quarter of 2013, there are 1.5 million economically active people in the country. Of that, 10 percent of the workforce – some 181,000 people – were Qatari.
That means 144,800 people would need to be groomed for leadership positions in the coming years. Even with this influx, “there will continue to be a need for a carefully controlled number of senior expatriates,” the report said.
Speaking to Doha News, the study’s lead researcher, Prof. William Scott-Jackson, said a combination of early training, fast track processes and an app that could help leaders deal with sticky situations could make the goal possible. He continued:
“It will be very difficult to get 80% but we can get a large number by starting early and focusing on giving leadership experiences. We calculate that about 70% of leader characteristics can be learned through experience while perhaps 30% are innate…
The app would help you ‘do’ leadership, rather than having to ‘learn’ leadership. For example, (the app would help you with) a difficult-to-hold ‘frank discussion’ with a subordinate… Qatar will still need some expert expat leaders but the above could create a very large percentage.”
The executive summary made no mention of whether companies should put a special emphasis on recruiting Qatari women, who are graduating with college degrees at a faster clip than their male counterparts.
However, Scott-Jackson said the report advises employers to gain a competition advantage of introducing working conditions conducive to Qatari women:
“Flexible working, childcare, dignified and appropriate conditions and how about a female only call centre based in say Al Salwa – there would be plenty of applicants! Qatari women are still an untapped resource and a smart employer would get to them fast. Once again though, we need to really understand their motivations, aspirations and needs – most of which will be easy to meet!”
So far, local women account for 2 percent of the workforce, but Qatar has been working to increase that number.
Here’s the full executive summary:
Well the actual Qatari population is a state secret but lets say its 250,000 individuals. Once you remove the too young to work, the retired, those with insufficient education, those that run their own businesses, those that work in government or are the government and thsoe that do not want to work for various reasons, (women raising children for example) then that leaves a cosy 30,000 people by my reckonining. Even if you instutited a massive breeding programme, (which is unlikely work due to the high divorce rate) it would take probably two generations to have 100,000 people ready for the all the leadership positions. Who knows what Qatar would be like in 40 years?
In the same vein the report says that there are currently 181 000 Qataris in the workforce. Out of a population of around 250 000, I don’t believe that. Something wrong somewhere.
Just last year, it was reported there were only ~4400 (men & women) unemployed in the country: https://dohanews.co/survey-most-qataris-dont-want-to-work-in-the-private/
Let’s look at some of the great quotes here
(80 percent) said they prefer recommendations from personal or professional contacts instead. = Wasta (Who wants to go through a tricky interview process)
‘there will continue to be a need for a carefully controlled number of senior expatriates,” the report said. Ouch! You mean you can’t trust foreigners, the money you pay them is not enough for their loyalty???
Not everyone is capable of (or interested in) leading, and having a maroon passport is certainly no guarantee that a person will be in possession of that unique skill set. Instead of trying to make every employable Qatari a leader (“All Chiefs and no Indians” as the saying goes), why doesn’t the government work to try to create interest in other mid-level careers and fields for its citizenry?
I have never understood the widely-accepted premise here that certain positions are “beneath” the locals, especially anything that has some aspect of being ‘hands-on’ (e.g., working on a rig, under a hood, in a classroom, with patients, etc.). Any job done well is something to be lauded.
And while I would agree that employers sometimes believe locals are motivated by different things than they truly are, it appears there aren’t that many locals who are motivated by factors such as “challenge”, “contribute to society” and “influence” because so very few of them are involved in the field of education, something their country sorely needs to improve.
This is interesting topic. I would love to hear the Qatari’s view on this. I’ve read a report saying that companies are struggling to convince Qatari to show up for interview, let alone accept job offers. Not sure what are the issues here for them.
I face that problem all the time when trying to hire Qataris, we get 10 CVs from HR, 3 could fit the position, we expand it to 5, invite them for an interview, and 2 come (after some of missed interviews)… The market for Qataris is very competitive, many get job offers before any interviews.
Private Sector ?
Sounds familiar – do you then get raked over the coals for failing to fulfill your quota and have needed positions sitting empty because you can’t find a Qatari to fill them?
The positions I usually need Qataris for are entry-level positions that don’t require much experience, not really “needed positions”.
The “needed positions” have experience requirements that are usually easily filled by a non-Qatari.
So basically “job creation” positions to give youngsters a foot in the door? If you don’t “have” to do it, but still do it anyway, good move!
I saw a process similar to Qatarisation in SA back in the 1990’s called Affirmative Action, Black Economic Empowerment and a number of other similar titles. Basically an attempt to get a demographic balance into the workplace. It’s not been a success there and I don’t think shoe-horning Qataris into “Leadership” roles is the way to go.
They need to start out for sure, but they need to start out learning the ropes lower down, and shadowing a leadership mentor (be it another Qatari or an Expat). This is the only way to really learn and earn what it takes. I’ve met a few Qataris in my professional experience here who are good at what they do and good leaders and decision makers. I’ve also met a few who are complete wastes of space, but you get that everywhere.
Give it a few years an in a society as small as this, the wheat and chaff will get sorted. People will get to know who can, and does, work and who can’t and doesn’t. It’ll become the gossip at the karak parties 😉
“many get job offers before any interviews”
In your opinion, does this make the market competitive or corrupt? I don’t mean to cause offence, rather to find out if you believe people being offered jobs without interviews is because they are so exceptionally well qualified, or because they are nationals who happen to know the right person?
ok let’s not jump to the conclusion too soon. I, too to some extent agree that some position need to be hired by nationals to help protect Qatar’s interest. This happen not only in Qatar but throughout the world. If he/she has proven record of success in previous company, interview is not really necessary, except for formalization and ticking a box in the HR checklist.
To cater for rapid development like what Qatar is experiencing requires great amount of talent supply. That is the problem Qatar is facing right now.
Mostly in the government sector…
“Qataris are highly motivated by factors such as ‘serving the country’ and ‘contributing to society…” True and accurate, and most Qataris are convinced that the best way to serve and contribute is by holding top management positions.
yupp, those are usually the ones that end up in senior roles while the ones with expertise and actual leadership skills end up being buried and not given a chance to shine.
ive worked thus far with 3 companies, and the most prominent Qataris are the ones doing the actual work, not the ones that were “favored” and given the post of director while under 35.
heck, a Qatari just left us, hardly worked well at their job and never did anything right, they just got hired by another company as a director without a college degree and without looking at the quality of the individual.
their profession is in abundance in the market, but favorism not only by other locals, but also expats(especially), puts idiots in senior leadership roles and muffle down the good ones keeping them in their operational positions because hey, they’re already “overpaid”
Most of the comments are “as expected”… 😉
And do many of the “expected” comments differ from your general view?
Putting aside issues of whether or not Qataris can be parachuted into leadership roles or not, I was under the impression that there was near full employment of nationals. At least that’s the impression the QSA tries to give.
That near full employment is almost entirely government jobs… less than 5% have private sector jobs.
Tough crowd! Next time make the joke about Qataris, the more derogatory the better, and you’ll get so many likes 😉
Many like to bite the hand that feeds them but don’t realise the political necessary of the government having studies like this to show they care….
Good one 😉
They’ve put an interesting spin (huge opportunity for leaders?) on the results, which confirm what many of us have been saying for a while: Qatar doesn’t have a large enough population of employable citizens to support stated Qatarization goals — 20 percent of private sector jobs and a much higher percentage at semi-government organizations like QF, for example — especially given the huge influx of imported labor related to major infrastructure projects and 2022. And where do the government-day-job entrepreneurs fit in? Do they get counted twice? The 2030 plan aims to “provide 50 percent or more of Qatari citizens with meaningful permanent employment,” a goal that seems realistic and laudable and is not tied to a specific sector or ever-expanding overall population number, much less the idea that the majority have outstanding leadership ability or potential.
This report is a complete joke! I’m a sociologist and I work in recruitment in Qatar for 7 years now and my personal experience tells something else. Mistake number one is to ask the students what drives their ambitions, of course as young individuals that did not start their professional careers yet they will be full of good intentions to have “serve the country” as a main motivation. When I recruit Nationals only small % is motivated by an opportunity, development etc(mostly woman have that motivation) but most of them are asking in the first place about the salary. Now what is important I would not blame the Qataris but employers that got the Qatarization completely wrong. It is actually very hard for locals to change jobs, or develop within most of the organizations. Very often the minute they are on the company payroll they are being forgotten. There is no proper place where nationals can get career advice, there should be a job centers where all jibs should be advertised and professional career advisors should help to make the right choice.
Another problem with Qatarization is that it discourages senior expats from sharing their knowledge and skills with nationals. Expats are afraid that once the Qatari is qualified, they will be no longer needed and therefore share as little as possible. Nationals often advance through the ranks based on the number of years on the job and numerous training courses, as opposed to meaningful on-the-job training and hands-on experience. End result is managers who are more comfortable delegating everything (at times not even sure what the end product should look like), but rarely leading.
As an expat professional, I have a problem with the concept ‘Leadership’. Being excellent in one’s profession, being diligent, committed, motivated does NOT make you a ‘leader’. It means you do a good job and contribute enormously to the company or the country.The whole idea that Qatari’s have to be leaders is , in my opinion, misguided. Why not instead encourage excellence, with rewards commensurate with that, rather than shoe-horn individuals into roles for which they are not a good fit. It is demoralizing for them when they struggle or are not respected, it is de-motivating for individuals, making ambition irrelevant and frankly it does not contribute towards creating a better, dynamic Qatar.
OMG, how do you know me so well 😉
As a graduate, 20 plus year operational practitioner and still a student of leadership you have my vote. Well articulated.
How can you “lead” if you’ve never done the job before and have no way of knowing how to explain to those who WILL do the job how to do it? The theoretical knowledge that some have that might qualify them for the “leader” job is much different than practical knowledge needed to succeed and that very few have.
“If Qatar is serious about reducing its dependency on foreign labor” We’re not, end of the story 😉
Of course it is not, the same as Saudi which has a much larger local population and a longer history of nationalisation, which has failed miserably. Same in the UAE. Maybe Oman is a better example.
I do not understand how young Qataris be given leader position. Leaders are not produced rather they are molded into one as per the countries political, social and economic conditions. In any society, the senior most generations are typically given such posts while the young generation starts from the bottom.
It’s strange that to be a manager or leader in Qatar as an ex-pat you need 15-20 years post-graduate experience and professional qualifications, yet they are expecting Qataris to carry out the same with less experience which is a bit unfair and very challenging. Maybe the need to sort out apprenticeships/mentoring to let these people grow into these leadership positions as it will only benefit the country in the future.
Although I am an expat, I do really support this concept. But I do think that people need to be realistic. Developing a leader takes time, and it is unfair to both the person, and the organization, to put a person in a leadership role before they are ready. Also, I think there is something so very valuable about being at the bottom of the totem pole (as the saying goes). Starting at the bottom teaches a person that respect needs to be earned, and it separates the enthusiastic workers with much potential from their less-potential counterparts. Enthusiastic workers will strive to prove themselves, make a name for themselves, and will continuously seek to increase their knowledge and increase their impact to the organization. It is also at this time (at least for me) that a worker will begin to gain confidence in themselves and their work, and this confidence, combined with their increased working knowledge, will make for the most effective future leader. Development is not just an obligation of the employer, but the employee needs to take some responsibility for their development, and seek out their own ways to grow, with the support of the employee. I think if there is some patience, Qatar can get there!
it seems to me that the only way such a program will work is if you naturalize some ex-pats here. I know that’s political anathema, but this society cannot continue indefinitely with one group of people given special treatment. This study shows that’s economically unfeasible; moreover, it’s not hard to look at other societies where a similar situation leads to instability rather than growth (and for a fascinating look at a rather nasty example, see the Zanibar Revolution of 1964, where the Omani elite were overthrown by their African underlings and then thrown onto ships back to Oman, despite many of them having not been born there).
We need more qualified and trained Qataris.
I know that I have arrived late to this conversation (hey,
some of us have had a busy week 😉 ). However, what floors me is the idea that
80% of the Qatari working population should be placed into leadership roles.
The extrapolation at reaching the 80% is exactly that…reaching! To compare the
UK working population to that of Qatar creates as false sense of achievability
in this country. I am from a G7 country that has an enviable education system
and I would find it laughable if the government from my home country attempted
to move 80% of the working population into leadership level positions. As many
of you have already noted, there are many people who don’t have the critical
nor analytical skills to be effective leaders, and even many that do possess
such skills, many do not want to be leaders in the workforce. This is not a dig
at Qatar, it is the reality across every country (if anyone can tell me of the
exception, please do!).