Working in Kuwait?
The Job Search for Expats in Kuwait
The Job Market — Favoring Locals
Expatriates are a common phenomenon in Kuwait’s economy. Around two-thirds of the labor force is made up of foreign nationals. Although the majority of these are manual workers in low-income jobs, the number of expats in the upper segments of the labor market is also high. Still, finding a job in Kuwait is not as easy as it once was. While, in the past, expats have filled many major upper-level positions, new generations of Kuwaitis now entering the labor market are increasingly well educated, and the government is aware of the need to provide them with decent career opportunities within Kuwaiti borders.
Companies are therefore strongly encouraged to hire locals whenever possible. Kuwaiti authorities can limit the number of work visas issued to a company to make sure certain quotas of local employees are upheld. Additionally, plans have been proposed to cut the number of expats in the country over the next few years. As of 1 March 2016, Kuwait has started to ban all expats aged over 50 from working in the public sector.
The treatment of migrant workers — in low paid jobs — is always a hot topic in the GCC region, with numerous stories about the exploitation and abuse of laborers, with regard to their working conditions and level of pay, as well as their inability to report any mistreatments or even change their employers. Just recently, however, a new law set an upper limit on working hours to twelve hours a day including breaks. Even though this is still a high amount, it was the first time that the government has put a maximum on the number of hours, so it still is a step in the right direction.
Professional Qualifications Needed for a Job
Despite government efforts to become more self-sufficient in terms of labor, the demand for expatriate specialists is not likely to cease altogether. Expats skilled in key areas for the development of the Kuwaiti economy will still have a good chance to get a job there.
This applies particularly to expats who hold a degree and have comprehensive professional experience in the financial sector or in the fields of marketing, sales, and business development. Engineers, especially those with skills relevant to the oil industry, probably stand the best chance of fulfilling their dream of working in Kuwait.
How to Search for Work
For job postings, check out Monster.com and Bayt.com. Both have extensive job listings for working in Kuwait. Also, there are a number of reputable recruiting agencies that mainly deal with jobs in upper management. Aman Overseas and Career Hunters, to name just a few, are highly regarded recruitment agencies that you could start with.
When push comes to shove, however, self-initiative is key. Seek out companies (both multinationals and Kuwaiti businesses) that might require the set of skills you can offer, and contact them directly. In Kuwait, personal relationships are very important in all aspects, including in the business world. Local contacts can therefore prove immensely valuable for finding employment.
As in many other expat destinations, teaching English is a very popular option for working in Kuwait. There is always a high demand for English teachers in private language schools, as well as at the universities and private international schools. Private lessons are also becoming increasingly popular, though they are mostly a means for regular teachers to supplement their income.
Depending on the institution, a university degree in TEFL and some teaching experience are usually required for working in Kuwait as an English teacher. There is also demand for translators, though usually only on a part-time or short-term basis.
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