MGRP – The Kuwaitization Engine

Aug. 16–KUWAIT — The Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP) is a government organization that aims to increase the quantity of Kuwaitis working in the private sector in addition to raising the quality of Kuwaiti manpower in general. MGRP is associated with the crisis of Kuwaitis laid-off from the private sector because it is the agency responsible for the distribution of manpower within the private sector. The program was established in 1997 because of the sudden increase in unemployment figures (3,00 0 jobless claims were filed then).

Another reason for establishing the program was the extremely low percentage of Kuwaiti workers in the private sector (only 1.6 percent of the work force in the private sector were Kuwaitis in 2000). The government saw a security threat in this, especially after increased pressure on the public sector was applied by the large number of Kuwaiti employees and applicants because the public sector was, and still is, the preferred area for Kuwaitis to work.

The National Assembly, in cooperation with the Cabinet, passed Law 19/2000 which sought to resolve the problem of the unwillingness of Kuwaitis to work in the private sector by paying an allowance to Kuwaiti workers in the private sector in addition to their salary. In addition, they would pay a KD 50 social allowance for every child the employee had, just like public sector employees. The law also obligates companies to allocate a certain percentage of their employees from the Kuwaiti work force.

The program was created to take a lead in implementing these strategies in addition to achieving goals like promoting work in the private sector, fighting unemployment and keeping it under the internationally accepted limit of 4 percent and reducing the number of specialized applicants for jobs to 1 percent by 2010. This will be done by providing 7,000 jobs to Kuwaitis in the private sector annually.

In order to achieve these goals, the program initiated a number of media campaigns to change some common perceptions of Kuwaiti society and to encourage Kuwaiti youth to work in the private sector.

The services provided by the program are not limited to implementing the above mentioned strategy — it includes many other services like training job seekers to properly write CVs and conduct job interviews successfully. The program also searches for job opportunities in the private sector and enlists them in a special section on the website for Kuwaiti job seekers. Special courses are also provided for job seekers to prepare them for work in the private sector. “In the last four years, nearly 8,500 job se ekers benefited from these courses,” deputy secretary of the program, Fawzy Al-Majdali said.

In order to help applicants, “job searching allowances” are paid for any applicant who is registered in the program for at least six months without finding a job. The allowance is paid for one year. The program has played a pivotal role in the crisis of laid off Kuwaiti workers in the private sector. It participated in the joint committee established by the Cabinet to address the issue under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance, including the Civil Service Bureau and Public Institution for Social Secu rity in addition to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

The deputy secretary of the program, Fawzy Al-Majdali, told Kuwait Times that the numbers of laid-off Kuwaiti workers in the private sector was extremely exaggerated. “The number of Kuwaiti workers laid-off in the period of June 2008 — June 2009 is not much more than the number of laid-off Kuwaiti workers in the fiscal year before.

In addition, the numbers reported in the Kuwaiti media also include those who resigned and those who moved to work in other companies and those who left their jobs to open businesses for themselves,” the spokesman said, indicating that regardless of the small number of actual laid-off Kuwaitis, “The program, along with the Cabinet, took serious steps to help those in need by paying them 60 percent of their net incomes.

The MGRP is currently receiving applications from laid-off Kuwaiti workers to receive this allowance.

© Kuwait Times 2009

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