Unemployment in Qatar is lower than in any other country in the Middle East at 0.6%, QNB Capital has said citing an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.
“This is mainly due to extremely low unemployment amongst expatriates. As expatriate residence permits are linked to employment, very few unemployed expatriates remain in the country,” the report said.
Amongst Qatari nationals, the unemployment rate was 3.9% in March 2011. This is slightly lower than a year earlier when it was 4.1%. Unemployment amongst Qatari nationals is low as there are numerous opportunities available in the public sector and the private sector. This provides an increasing number of jobs and training opportunities to nationals.
A central tenet of government policy is to improve the education of the Qatari workforce to ensure that nationals have the skills to meet the requirements of the labour market. The Qatar National Vision 2030, in which Qatar sets out its long-term goals and aspirations, states that the country will strive to increase the effective labour force participation of its citizens and to build a modern world-class educational system.
The National Development Strategy 2011-16 proposes a range of programmes to improve education, especially through technical education and vocational programmes and their alignment with the needs of the labour market.
Huge investments have gone into education and developing Qatar University.
QNB Capital estimates that spending on education reached 3.2% in 2011, one of the highest levels in the GCC. Qatar Foundation’s Education City has attracted internationally renowned universities to Qatar.
This has made progressive education and cutting-edge research accessible to the future workforce.
The National Development Strategy also states that the participation of Qataris in the private sector should be promoted along with incentives to promote on-the-job training. The public sector plans to increase, and communicate more broadly, its available training options and scholarships. Strong investment and reform of education and the labour market will contribute to reducing future unemployment in Qatar.
In the GCC, there were about 5mn employed nationals in 2010 and 4mn were expected to enter the workforce in the next five years. The IMF estimates that unemployment amongst GCC nationals could increase by between 2mn and 3mn in the next five years, based on the continuation of current trends.
Around 7mn jobs were created in the GCC in the last decade with less than 2mn of these going to nationals. This illustrates that unemployment is not a consequence of a lack of job creation.
Unemployment amongst nationals within the GCC is difficult to compare owing to a lack of data and differing definitions. Official estimates put unemployment of nationals in 2010 in Saudi Arabia at 10%, UAE 6.3%, Bahrain less than 4% and Kuwait 3%.
Unemployment is a particular concern in the Middle East. It peaked at 12.6% in 2003 and trended downward to 9.9% in 2010. However, it reversed its downward trend in 2011, rising to 10.2%. It is forecast to rise slightly higher to 10.3% in 2012.
Around 2mn new jobs will need to be created in 2012 to keep unemployment at the same level.
According to QNB Capital, high unemployment is of particular concern given that despite strong growth forecasts in the Middle East of 4.9% in 2011 and 4% in 2012, current job creation mechanisms are not sufficient to combat unemployment. Consequently, more effective labour market reform is required to reverse the upward trend in unemployment.
A recent report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Global Employment Trends 2012, highlighted a number of challenges in the global labour market. The world will need to create 600mn jobs over the next decade to provide 400mn new jobs for the growing global labour force and eradicate worldwide unemployment of 200mn.
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