Browsing 'labor survey' News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With reporting by Shabina Khatri and Lesley Walker

Though some of Qatar’s largest companies and organizations are laying off thousands of employees, other firms here have continued adding to their headcounts, two new reports suggest.

More than 50,000 expats joined Qatar’s labor force between April and September 2015, an increase of nearly 3 percent, according to an analysis of the most recently available government statistics.

At the same time, fewer unemployed expats in Qatar reported that a lack of job opportunities was preventing them from working.

Separately, a Bayt.com survey of Qatar residents found that 53 percent of employed respondents said their organization had hired new staff in the last three months.

For illustrative purposes only.

Bayt.com/Facebook

For illustrative purposes only.

The report, prepared jointly by the job board and research firm YouGov, surveyed 114 working residents of Qatar. It also found that 57 percent of employed respondents believed their organization would be hiring additional staff over the next three months.

The news is likely to be of little comfort to many expats who have already lost their jobs here, some of whom have been forced to uproot their families and leave Qatar before the end of the school year.

There is also no indication that the newly created jobs pay as much as the ones that are being eliminated.

Low oil price

During the past couple of years, persistently low prices of oil have hurt the bottom line of energy companies and led to layoffs at Qatar Petroleum and RasGas. It’s also eroded government revenues and spurred budget cuts at publicly funded organizations as well as layoffs at institutions such as Hamad Medical Corp.

A snapshot of Qatar's labor force in Q3 2015.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

A snapshot of Qatar’s labor force in Q3 2015.

While the Bayt.com survey said employers are looking for managers, engineers and other professionals, real estate watchers have reported an uptick in vacancy rates among luxury and mid-range apartments, as well as residential compounds.

This suggests the growth in Qatar’s workforce is being driven by the labor-intensive construction sector and blue-collar workers who typically live in labor camps or low-end accommodations.

However, at least two engineering firms as well as an American university have told Doha News that they are both laying off and hiring employees as they restructure their operations.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

US Pacific Fleet/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Project management firm Astad said its recruiting efforts “far exceeds departures of any kind.” In a statement to Doha News last month, the company said:

“The nature of our business, and indeed the industry, is for natural attrition and staff departures as projects end and are delivered to our clients. Consequently, as new clients come on board then our recruitment efforts increase accordingly.”

Similarly, Atkins said it has laid off some 100 of its 2,000 employees based in the Middle East, including an unspecified number in Qatar. However, it continues to post new job opportunities.

“We’re a large and diverse company so it’s part of the normal course of business that some areas will continue to grow, while other parts are being impacted by market uncertainty,” spokesperson Ben Thompson told Doha News.

Meanwhile, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar said in September that budget cuts had forced it to eliminate “some” positions while creating other new roles. Affected employees were encouraged to apply for the newly created roles, the school said at the time.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ashley/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Domestic workers continue to work the longest hours while earning the lowest wages in Qatar, according to recently released government data.

According to figures published by Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics yesterday, domestic workers put in an average of 57 hours each week, with women working two hours more each week than their male counterparts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, government bureaucrats, teachers and medical workers put in 40 hours of work each week.

Wages in Qatar

Peter Kovessy

Wages in Qatar

Domestic workers are not covered by Qatar’s labor law, which means there are no restrictions on the maximum number of hours that they can work each week.

Domestic worker protection

When it comes to pay, the report found that government employees pulled in an average of QR24,894 monthly in 2014, compared to QR2,742 for domestic workers.

To put that wage gap in perspective, a government employee would have to work for less than three days to earn the same amount of money that the average maid, nanny, cook or driver takes home in a month, an analysis of labor force figures shows.

Additionally, Amnesty International spoke to dozens of female domestic workers earning half the amount stated by the government when it published a major 2014 report titled, “My sleep is my break: Exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Qatar.”

The human rights organization also documented cases of physical and psychological abuse, as well and cases of women working more than 100 hours a week.

Qatar was considering new laws regulating domestic workers in 2011, but shelved those plans as the GCC began negotiating a region-wide common contract that would include a working hours cap and a mandatory day off.

However, those efforts were abandoned slightly more than a year ago.

A new campaign by Migrant-Rights.org to promote fair employment conditions for migrant domestic workers in the region includes posters created by VCU-Qatar students.

Migrant-Rights.org

A new campaign by Migrant-Rights.org to promote fair employment conditions for migrant domestic workers in the region includes posters created by VCU-Qatar students.

In the absence of new legislation, a local advocacy group launched a campaign last Ramadan to encourage residents in Qatar and across the region to give domestic workers adequate time off during what’s often one of the busiest times of the year for household cooks and cleaners.

Gender wage gap

The wide-ranging annual labor force survey contains several other findings, including:

  • The overall gender wage gap is shrinking: The average monthly salary of a woman working in Qatar is now 85.3 percent of the average man’s salary. That’s up from 77.3 percent in 2011. However, a World Economic Forum report released last year stated that the wage gap is slightly larger when one compares men and women performing similar work.
  • Qatar’s construction sector is a huge employer: More than one out of every three working residents in the country are employed in the construction sector. In absolute terms, that works out to 633,823 men and women, up from 568,405 in 2013.
  • Many expats lack a formal education: Nearly two-thirds of working expats did not graduate high school.
  • There are fewer unemployed Qataris: There were 826 out-of-work Qataris looking for a job in 2014, down from 1,429 a year earlier. Unemployed female Qatari job-seekers continue to outnumber their male counterparts by more than 2:1.

Thoughts?

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In a blow to the government’s Qatarization plans, a new survey has found that the majority of the country’s unemployed nationals would not consider taking a job in the private sector.

According to the latest edition of the Qatar Statistics Authority’s Quarterly Labor Force Survey, 75 percent of some 1,300 unemployed Qataris surveyed said they were not willing to work at a private company.

Of the 25 percent who would, slightly more men (29 percent) than women (23 percent) favored applying for a non-governmental job.

The number one reason given for their reluctance was unsociable working hours. This was followed by the length of the working day, lower wages than what are offered in the public sector and the frequent requirement to work a six-day week.

Ambitious plans

Those same reasons help explain why so many employed Qataris also shy away from working in non-governmental posts.

Although the private sector does not generate as much money as Qatar’s government-run businesses, it still employs the majority of the country’s workforce – 74 percent in 2012.

Qataris account for less than 1 percent of this workforce, and only 5 percent of employed Qataris hold private-sector jobs, according to the National Development Strategy (NDS).

As part of efforts to grow the country’s knowledge-based economy, Qatar ambitiously aims to increase that participation to 15 percent by 2016. The logic goes that once the natural gas runs out, nationals must be trained and experienced in key private sector industries – a policy known as Qatarization.

Hard to deliver

But so far, despite warnings from the Labor Ministry that one-fifth of private sector companies must be comprised of Qatari employees or “face the music,” it has been difficult to advance nationalization goals.

Among the most commonly cited reasons: The private sector doesn’t do enough to attract local talent; the alternative – government jobs – are easier to get, pay better and entail shorter workdays; and there simply aren’t enough qualified Qataris to fill the quotas that have been set.

The NDS suggests several ways Qataris could be encouraged to seek employment with private firms, including boosting social benefits like land and housing allowances. It continues:

“Another option would be for the government to incentivize private companies to hire Qataris by subsidizing training costs, though the amount of such subsidies would need to be carefully determined and the effects monitored.”

Meanwhile, the Permanent Population Committee Annual Report 2012 suggests that new legislation be enacted that guarantees equal salary and benefits for Qataris in the public and private sectors. It is unclear, however, whether most non-government entities could realistically offer such high pay packages.

Unemployment

The report also shows that the unemployment level is stable at 0.3 percent (identical to the first sector of 2013). This extremely low figure is largely because of the kafala system, which ties each expat employee to an employer.

According to the Labor Force Survey, of the 1,344,466 men in Qatar aged over 15, 1,292,451 (96 percent) are employed. The rest are either students, disabled or retired, with only 1,245 classified as unemployed.

Although more women than men are currently unemployed in Qatar – there are currently 3,147 women classified as unemployed and seeking work here – the statistics show that only half of women actually work for an employer, with the other 50 percent are registered as either homemakers or students. 

Gender inequality

The figures also show a stark difference in the number of Qatari men and women pursuing higher education: 15,875 male students vs 22,199 female students, statistics borne out by a recent Qatar University graduation ceremony, which celebrated the achievements of a class of 226 men and 845 women.

The report also shows that the average monthly salary for all employees in Qatar in the second quarter of this year was QR9,636, but there’s disparity between the sexes here too.

The average monthly wage for a man was QR10,302, compared to QR7,893 for women – 23 percent less. These figures show that the issue, also flagged up in a Labor Force Survey in 2011, has yet to be addressed.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Arnaud Meuret

Note: The headline has been updated to show that the survey reflects the opinions of unemployed Qataris, and not the entire national population.