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lsewhere in the world unemployment is on the rise, but here in Qatar the demand far outweighs the supply! It is estimated that the number of jobs in the country will increase by the thousands every year, and the country’s biggest challenge will be in meeting this need. The World Bank authors of a recent report commissioned by the Planning Council suggests that Qatar could become an international model for how to build an economy without creating social inequalities. But, it warns, major deficiencies in the workforce deployment system (particularly public education) must be addressed. Qatar Today gives you an exclusive peek into the Labour Market Study and takes a look at the labour market issues that confront Qatar and the steps being suggested to mitigate these concerns from haunting Qatar for many decades to come.
52 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

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ThE 160-PagE World Bank assessment of the Qatar Labour Market would make a reasonable dust catcher on any government agency bookshelf. But the Secretary general of the Planning Council Sheikh hamad bin Jabor al Thani is determined to make sure this document doesn’t suffer that fate. “The issues are too important for the future of Qatar,” says Sheikh hamad (see interview on pg 63). “Through the leadership of hh the Emir, Qatar is developing a dynamic economy. One of the aims of this economic strategy includes creating employment opportunities for Qatari nationals.” But the Planning Council believes that the achievement of this goal requires some remedial strategies to get the formula right. The math is simple. Taking one profession as an example, in the next 5 years Qatar will need about 9000 engineers to support its mushrooming

economy. In 2004, only 2 percent of the graduates from Qatar University were in engineering, a mere 26 Qatari engineers. In the public sector, as governments overseas are becoming more strategic and efficient, the size of their public administrations is shrinking.

...while future employment opportunities are in the private sector, currently 95 percent of Qataris are employed in the public sector – 1986 it was 90 percent. Contrast that with halving of Qataris in the private sector from 10 percent to 4 percent over the same period

Certainly, in Qatar recruitment in the public sector has slowed but the share of Qataris employed by the public sector continues to trend upwards. So while future employment opportunities are in the private sector, currently 95 percent of all Qataris are employed in the wider public sector and growing – 1986 it was 90 percent. Contrast that with halving of Qataris in the private sector from 10 percent to 4 percent over the same period. The Planning Council invited some of the world’s top experts to study the local labour market. With the involvement of many government and private sector agencies, the World Bank’s analysis was blunt: The Qatari labour force is neither large enough nor suitably qualified to sustain the size and the specialised nature of the economy that is generated by the oil and gas sector.
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Photo credit: arabianEye

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challenging, he believes that there is a unique opportunity to capitalise on Qatar’s burgeoning economy by enhancing the employability of Qatari nationals. But it’s an opportunity that the Planning Council cannot undertake alone. “as a strategic policy agency, it’s the Planning Council’s duty to bring to the attention of higher authorities and other agencies, any issues that may have an impact on achieving Qatar’s wider vision,” he says. “We also have a role in helping to facilitate the path to some of the solutions, but it requires the involvement and commitment of multiple private and public sector agencies over a minimum 3-year period to successfully transform the Qatar labour market.” An International Model Often the term “expert” is loosely used for anyone with some specific knowledge but it couldn’t be more appropriate for Professor Zafiris Tzannatos, the Beirut-based Advisor to the World Bank. With more than 14 text books on labour markets and economics, and over 100 publications to his name, when this expert says Qatar could be an international model, people listen. Professor Tzannatos (see interview pg 69), who was previously World Bank Manager for labour markets and social protection for the MENa (Middle East and North africa) region, was the lead author of the Qatar Labour Market Strategy report. Having studied dozens of economies and practically all the arab countries, and having led the preparation of the World Bank’s Social Protection Strategy in the MENa (in 2002), he believes “the Qatar labour market presents an unparalleled complexity that requires out-of-the-box thinking if one wants to sincerely address the Qatari needs rather than satisfy some kind of economic theory”. “The strength of Qatar today does not arise just from the recent economic developments that are also found in many other economies. Its strength lies in the articulation of social and political issues led by a vision to create an efficient Government and a diversified economy through increasing the role of the private sector. This vision is both forward-looking and feasible,” he says. Many countries are rich or becoming richer but many fail to set priorities guided by sound principles, so they cannot sustain the result and end up being worse off than they were years before. There are many oil-abundant economies that have lagged behind

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The deployment of the Qatari labour force is further constrained by an eightfold segmentation and by poor outcomes of the workforce deployment system, especially with respect to the education of Qatari men. The ability of the labour and education authorities to coordinate within and between themselves, and to jointly guide the development of the workforce, is hampered by policy, organisational and administrative impediments and statistical inadequacies. This month the Planning Council is launching the Qatar Labour Market Strategy National Action Plan. The Plan is a bold medium-term, multi-sectoral approach to building sustainable labour market policies to meet the future needs of the Qatar economy and its people. Based around nine key recommendations, the Plan includes: The need for a national body for workforce development Developing an educational National Qualifications Framework Improving the system for granting visas for expatriates Moving towards a performancebased public sector employment system Sheikh hamad says that while some may consider the recommendations

Distribution (%) of Qatari Workers by Employment Status and Economic Sector Status (%) 1986 1997 2004

Employer Self-employed Wage earner
Sector (%) Government Private Total (no.) 54 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

4 2 93

3 1 96

2 0 98

90 10 20,807

95 5 36,275

96 4 50,282

The Qatari labour force is neither large enough nor suitability qualified to sustain the size and specialised nature of the economy that is generated by the oil and gas sector

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Labour Market Strategy Report Findings

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The Qatari population is not large enough to support the economy created by the oil and energy sectors. Between 1997 and 2004 the annual population growth rate of Qataris has been 2.2 percent compared to 6.5 percent for non-Qataris. Recent employment trends among Qataris are going in the government service sector in the sense that the share of the Qatari labour force in the private sector and in entrepreneurial jobs (such as employers or self employed) has been decreasing while the share of Qataris in the government service sector has been increasing. If the current trends continue, future large scale investments will have little primary employment impact on Qataris. These are concentrated in sectors where Qataris do not work or are offered jobs for which Qataris cannot compete (for example, for lack of education, skills or experience) with expatriate workers. The combination of various benefits for Qataris and more generous working conditions in the government service sector results in Qataris not working in the private sector. Though there are nearly 400,000 employed expatriates, when looked upon closely, only about 25,000 jobs in the private sector are acceptable to Qataris if they had the necessary qualifications for such jobs. There is a large male deficit in education that prohibits Qataris from deservedly replacing non-Qataris. For example, the enrolment rates of Qatari men in secondary education are already lower than those of women; the examination pass rates and progression rates from one education level to another is also lower than men; there are nearly three female university students for each male student at Qatar University; by age 25, Qatari males have already lost nearly 6,000 education years compared to Qatari females; and there are (in 2004) nearly 1200 fewer Qatari male workers with university education than Qatari women. Overall the linkages between education and the labour market are weak including (a) an embryonic training system (with notable exceptions, such as Qatar

Petroleum) and (b) a concentration of studies in soft subjects. A significant share of education output (such as female teachers) becomes an input to the education system.

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If the current patterns continue, expanding qualified Qatari employment in the board public sector is the most likely option to keep unemployment from rising. In the intercensal period (1997-2004) Qatari workers in public administration displaced fewer than 500 nonQatari workers annually. This compares to an annual net increase of the Qatari labour force by 2,000. More education among Qataris and faster replacement of nonQataris would be required to keep the public sector from expanding in the absence of performance-based public sector employment. Unemployment affects primarily less educated Qatari men and more educated Qatari women. Solutions would require an aggressive drive to educate more Qatari men and a reduction in gender segregation. The rationale/administration/transparency of issuing foreign work permits needs to be improved (between the Ministry of Interior, Department of Labour, Ministry of Civil Service and Housing’s Foreign Recruitment Committee) and the information on foreign workers better utilised for manpower planning. The new Labour Law and its Executive Regulations are landmarks in labour relations and are as such commendable. However, the new rights recognised therein and the fast track economy, involving heavy legal relationships, will attract more labour frictions and disputes. Qatarization as stated today will be difficult to achieve as, in addition to constraints imposed by the education deficit of male Qataris, the Qatari labour force has been increasing annually (1997 - 2004) by 2,000 while the non-Qatari labour force by 20,000 (and possibly faster since the census was undertaken). (Source: Planning Council) inequality,” he says. Professor Tzannatos says, while some of Qatar’s characteristics can be found in various proportions and
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10 11

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their – at face value – less fortunate labour-abundant counterparts. The prospects for Qatar can be entirely different.

“Qatar has the preconditions for becoming an international example of a country that integrates into the world economy without increasing

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cation in that one needs to assess separately the contribution of the total labour force to the economy and the contribution of such an economy to the welfare of its own citizens. and related to the previous point, labour markets perform best when they are competitive. however, in Qatar you factor into the analysis that there are three critical divisions (public/private, national/ expatriate, male/female) that leads to the creation of eight different segments in the labour force. “Once economic growth is ruled out as the main driver for employment creation and reducing unemployment and if labour market segmentation is accepted as a fact, economists quickly run out of conventional policy options and need to search elsewhere for solutions” said Tzannatos. So, rather than starting from a theoretical base, the World Bank study is based on a tortuous analysis of statistics derived from the 2004 population census by asking three interrelated questions: What kinds of jobs are expected to be created in the future and which ones are likely to appeal to Qatari job seekers? are the Qatari job seekers suitably qualified (e.g. from the education system) to do the jobs they aspire to do? given that the welfare state in Qatar takes largely the form of “benefits via employment in the broad public sector,” how can one encourage nationals to work in the private sector (a sector that has seen its Qatari labour share decline from 10 percent in 1986 to 4 percent in 2004)? By examining these interrelated questions and with the use of a newly-constructed Qatar-specific software model for manpower analysis and simulations, Professor Tzannatos says that the conclusions were not hard to reach. Education Deficit The first conclusion is that Qatar’s stellar performance in education has room to – paradoxically – further improve. The education system is tasked with preparing its nationals to acquire the competencies to enable them to substitute for non-Qatari workers – ideally at the higher end of skills and occupations. Clustered

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combinations in other economies, the Qatari labour market is a quantitative outlier in three respects: In a typical country, investments around the $100 billion should generate thousands of jobs and, though this is expected to be true for Qatar in general, Professor Tzannatos says it is however largely irrelevant in terms of the direct employment impact it will have on Qatari nationals. Secondly, based on the latest statistics available and among comparator countries (if not in the world), Qatar has the smallest and declining share of nationals in the labour force. This creates a compli-

Compared with Qatari Girls, Twice as Many Qatari Boys Fail Exams and Drop Out of School (dropout and failure rates, 2001/2) Dropout Level Primary Grades I–IV Grade V Grade VI Average (%) No. of students Preparatory Grade I Grade II Grade III Average (%) No. of students Gen’l secondary Grade I Grade II Grade III Average (%) No. of students 12.2 6.3 13.0 10.6 455 3.7 2.8 10.5 5.5 1,161 25.0 10.0 23.0 20.0 1,273 14.0 4.0 12.0 10.0 839 5.2 7.5 6.5 6.3 553 1.1 2.4 2.7 2.0 198 17.0 10.0 8.0 12.0 1,016 6.0 6.0 5.0 5.0 532 4.0 7.2 8.9 5.1 941 2.0 3.2 2.5 2.4 470 4.0 11.0 9.0 6.0 1,113 3.0 8.0 3.0 4.0 714 Male Female Male Failure Female

Figures subject to rounding errors Source: Annual Statistical Abstract, PC 2003 56 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

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Education, the Gender divide and Training Furthermore, the drop-out and failure rates of Qatari students is showing a marked gender difference with boys more than likely to drop-out or fail than girls – a trend that can be seen right across the education system. In fact by the age of 25, for every 100 Qatari women with university qualifications there are only 46 Qatari men equally qualified. One formula used to measure the gap is to multiply the years required to reach each level of education by those women and men who have reached that level of education, producing the total years of education by gender. according to this calculation, 529 Qatari men age 25 in 2004 have completed 6,348 years of secondary schooling compared with 6,864 years completed by Qatari females. Similarly, the amount of a diploma education received by the 25-year-old Qataris in 2004 comes to 364 years for Qatari men compared with 490 years for Qatari women. For university education, the calculated number of years comes to 4,400 for men and 9,632 for women. The World Bank says that assuming that each year of education increases productivity by about 10 percent, the Qatari men’s schooling deficit (compared with women) reduces the contribution of male workers to the real economy by about 15 percent each – not an insignificant amount. The report indicates that the link between the labour market and the education system is particularly weak. While the economy is growing on the back of the oil and gas industry, for example, the national curriculum does not include any material on that industry. Furthermore there is no concerted school-based career education component in the curriculum. also, public schools do not have career counsellors. “Without a career goal in mind, it is difficult for young people to understand the value of education or to be motivated to overcome barriers they may encounter,” says Professor Tzannatos. “If school does not provide career awareness and exploration, students must rely on their families to learn about work and careers. Qatar no longer faces the problem of elders lacking an understanding of the labour market. Modern parents are more educated and are employed in the formal sector, and many have studied abroad. however, because most Qataris work in government or the broader public sector, children are likely to learn little from their parents about the private sector.” at the higher education level, the
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together, the general education system, the training and the higher education sectors combine to act as a workforce development system. But how well does this system work for Qatar? In many respects preparation for work begins in elementary school. Basic literacy, math, and social skills prepare students for their future careers. Qatar public education system started in 1952 and, albeit small, has all the ingredients for comprehensive coverage, and with appropriate administration and management structures, should be able to serve the population at large. “however, it’s at this bottom end of the spectrum that thousands of school years are lost by students, most often males, failing to pass exams, repeating classes, dropping out of secondary education and not being able to subsequently pursue more rewarding university studies that are critical for their own and their families’ welfare and also for Qatarization to succeed ,” says Professor Tzannatos. Employers, such as Qatar Petroleum (QP) and other medium-sized operations, report that secondary graduates need substantial remediation before they can enter company training. In the case of QP, most secondary school graduates receive 26 weeks of remedial education in math and English before entering company training. “We estimate that the productivity loss due to inadequate schooling, especially among Qatari males, may be over 30 percent more than what it could realistically (not ideally) be. This is not encouraging if the objective of Qatarization is to succeed, as one cannot expect the private sector to pay nationals wages that do not match their productivity. and it risks creating inequalities amongst Qataris,” says Professor Tzannatos.

“Many countries are rich or becoming richer but many fail to set priorities guided by sound principles, so they cannot sustain the result and end up being worse off than they were years before. The prospects for Qatar could be entirely different. Qatar has the preconditions for becoming an international example of a country that integrates into the world economy without increasing inequality.” – World Bank Consultant Professor Zafiris Tzannatos

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Most Qatari University Students Graduate in Traditional Areas with the Highest Numbers Found in Education and Thus Become an Input into the Education Sector (Qatari graduates from Qatar University by gender and degree, 1989/90, 2003/4) Degree Gender 1989/90 2003/4 Growth % Distribution in 2004 3 23 26 3 21 24 3 8 11 3 6 9 2 0 2 8 16 24 1 3 4 23 77 100

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BA in education

Male Female Total

26 217 243 45 92 137 18 22 40 25 69 94 17 17 13 38 51 11 46 57 155 484 639

34 270 304 38 252 290 31 96 127 33 72 105 26 26 98 189 287 12 33 45 272 912 1,184

8 53 61 –7 160 153 13 74 87 8 3 11 9 9 85 151 236 1 –13 –12 117 428 545

BA in humanities

Male Female Total

BS in science

Male Female Total

BA in Sharia & law

Male Female Total

Bachelor in engineering

Male Female Total

BA in economics and management

Male Female Total

Other*

Male Female Total

Total

Male Female Total

engineering. Though records of Qataris overseas are incomplete, it is likely that the number of Qatari students studying overseas may have declined in recent years. Official data shows that between 2000 and 2003, undergraduate numbers fell from 750 to 620 and postgraduate from 466 to 427. Interestingly, for an economy built on oil and gas, currently there are six times more Qatari PhD students in education/ arts than in engineering – a mere six Qatari PhD engineers will be added to a $30 billion economy in the next couple of years. The weak link between the education/training sector and industry is further exacerbated by a training sector in Qatar which is a mix of largely uncoordinated public, private, and company training programmes. “Institutions are disconnected from each other while programmes are focused on the needs of a particular stakeholder, such as a government agency or major employer but they don’t necessarily align with the larger economic development strategy,” says Professor Tzannatos. There is no single entity charged with aligning workforce development efforts with the national economic strategy. Other issues include: the quality of the training is uneven (ranging from state-of-the-art to teaching typing on manual typewrit-

* Diplomas Note: Recently, certain areas of engineering have been opened for women (such as computer engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, and industrial systems). Source: Education Background Paper

link between industry and education is developing but still requires improvement. The World Bank report says predictably that Qatar University has grown with little anticipation of the fast changing oil economy and the resulting needs of the labour mar58 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

ket. For example Qatar University graduated more students in education than in any other degree (graduates who then go on to become inputs into the education sector itself), only 2 percent of all degrees and certificates awarded to Qataris were earned in

The World Bank estimates that employment growth will be mainly in sectors and jobs that Qatari workers have little preference for – mainly in the private sector.

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Summary of Recommendations

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Improving the labour market information system. This involves the collection, management and sharing of more comprehensive, accurate, relevant and timely data on labour market, education and household characteristics and trends. Building Capacity for Labour Analysis and Manpower Planning. There is a dearth of labour analysts and education economists who could further develop the manpower requirements simulations model and more generally integrate labour analysis in broader social and economic policy. Developing a National Qualifications Framework. This would introduce a common framework to the existing education/training system and the many initiatives underway, link it better to the needs of the labour market and increase synergies between different agencies involved in workforce development (such as the Ministry of Education, Supreme Education Council, Ministry of Civil Services Affairs and Housing in as far as it provides training and is the most important employer of Qataris so far). Understanding better the male education deficit, the needs of the disadvantaged and the population at risk (as opposed to the current emphasis of the education system which is on those at the highest end of qualifications). Addressing this education deficit will increase the employability of Qataris and substitution possibilities of non-Qataris as long as Qatari workers are prepared to undertake employment outside the public sector.

4 5 6 7

Redefining Qatarization as a flow (instead of a stock i.e. instead of saying that x percent of employment should be Qatari, recast this as x percent of the new hires should be Qatari). Establishing a National Body for Workforce Development. This body sets priorities and coordinates activities in areas including labour market policy formulation and implementation, links with education and training, Qatari employment and expatriate labour. Improving the System of Granting Visas to expatriate workers and utilizing better the relevant information for labour analysis. Moving away from a public sector employment/ benefit system to performance-based employment accompanied by “mutual responsibility”. The former would require clear public sector development plans and the latter requires the introduction of some asset or income tests as preconditions for benefit eligibility and/or the adoption of some categorical criteria such as old age, widowhood and disability. Providing Guidance on Appropriate Techniques and Best Practices to support the Executive Labour Regulations (new Labour Law) which in turn needs to be catered for by an efficient and properly equipped system of dispute resolution. (Source: Planning Council)

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ers); little or no coordination among the various training programmes; links between workforce development efforts and elementary and secondary education are weak; workforce development programmes overlook a number of at-risk populations; and research and evaluation on workforce development is inadequate to manage and improve the system. another example of the lack of coordination is the proliferation of vocational qualification systems. QP is committed to using the australian TAFE credential system, the Training Centre in the Ministry of Civil

Service affairs and housing is using the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) system from great Britain, the College of the North atlantic has based its programmes on the Canadian Vocational Qualification System (although to serve QP it is planning to add TAFE qualifications) and the Secondary School of Industrial Technology was developed on a german model with help from gTZ. Not only can learners be forgiven for not completely understanding how relevant their qualification will be in the local (or international) marketplace but an employer looking to hire a Qatari faces applicants with a

During 1997 to 2004, the Qatari labour force increased annually by 2,000 (1,070 men and 930 women) compared with an annual increase of more than 20,000 expatriate workers. Today the Qatari/non-Qatari ratio in the labour force is 1:8
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Employment Distribution (%) and Value Added per Worker (index: gov = 100), 2004 Sector Mining and quarrying Finance/insurance/real est Government services Others Subtotal (total GDP = 90%) Trade/restaurants/hotels Building and construction Household services Subtotal (total GDP = 10%) All 4 4 17 21 46 15 27 12 54 Qatari 8 2 68 20 98 2 1 0 3 VA 2,631 308 100 104 342 64 30 11 35

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Distribution (%) of Qatari Workers by Employment Status and Economic Sector Status (%) 1986 4 2 93 1997 3 1 96 2004 2 0 98

Employer Self-employed Wage earner
Sector (%)

Government Private Total (no.)

90 10 20,807

95 5 36,275

96 4 50,282

Nearly as Many Qatari Women Enter the Labor Force as Qatari Men Every Year but 10 Times More Non-Qataris Enter than Qataris (Intercensal Annual Changes in Net Employment, 1997–2004) Employment 1997 Q-Men Q-Women Q-All Non-Qatari All 27,573 8,702 36,275 243,862 280,137 Increase 7,546 6,461 14,007 143,417 157,424 Employment 2004 35,119 15,163 50,282 387,279 437,561 Annual Increase 1,078 923 2,001 20,488 22,489

size of the economy generated by the energy sector, there are plenty of opportunities for good jobs for Qataris, if they were prepared to do these jobs. The Strategic Planning Director for the Qatar Foundation, Fahad Al Naimi, who was invited by the Planning Council to manage the national labour market study project, says that Qatar now has the ability to accurately forecast the labour market supply and demand. “For the first time we have the ability (through a software model – initially developed by the World Bank as part of the LMS project) to estimate broad trends of education and employment in Qatar,” he says. however, the ability to forecast is limited by the inadequacy of available data and the expertise to drive the Manpower model. To aid this, the World Bank and Planning Council are running technical workshops later this month to train officials in the use of the model and labour market issues. While new proposed surveys will greatly assist the statistical input into the model, the report recommends the need to create a national mechanism for the coordination of all statistical activities between producers and users of official statistics with the Statistics Department playing a more central role. “Currently discrepancies in data exist because different sources collect

bewildering array of credentials that are difficult to assess, says Professor Tzannatos. The World Bank suggests the development of a Qatar National Qualifications Framework. “Certainly if countries as large as Canada and australia need a single credential system, a country the size
60 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

of Qatar would benefit from a single system of vocational qualifications,” he says. Jobs for All The second main conclusion of the report is that given that the Qatari population is too small to sustain the

In fact by the age of 25, for every 100 Qatari women with university qualifications there are only 46 Qatari men equally qualified.

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could not achieve targets like this. The World Bank report notes, based on discussions with the Department of Labour officials, that the Qatarization policy, by implementation, is realistically restricted to larger enterprises and is implemented more or less on a case-by-case basis. a great deal therefore depends on how the Department of Labour implements the Qatarization policy. For example, a national 20 percent Qatarization target would limit the total size of the employed labour force to five times the size of the Qatari labour force. This limit would imply that many expatriates leave the country as there are currently nearly eight expatriates for every Qatari worker! however, if the low-pay industries employing most expatriates are excluded, the ratio for the remaining industries is 3.3 which implies that for these industries the Qatarization target has already been achieved! This shows that numerical targets are just that and what matters at the end is for Qataris to be productive and rightfully gain high pay jobs for the sake of themselves, families and country. The report also notes that the lack of reliable data severely constrains any attempt to implement a “Qatarization” policy and other labour market policies. In addition, the administrative processes for issuing and following up with work permits fall under many ministries and ad hoc committees with different mandates and capacities and little coordination (from the point of view of workforce development) among them. Qatarization is poorly understood in the private sector (where supposedly it is to have its main impact) and is pursued in the absence of clear operational guidelines. “In other words, there is no clear operational strategy for Qatarization, and the involved agencies have yet to determine their mission and also their relationship to other agencies that are also involved in this policy area (from the training and education authorities to central government agencies and various committees),” says Professor Tzannatos. Incentives and Social Insurance The third conclusion of the report is that labour force dynamics in Qatar are affected by another critical factor other than education and new job opportunities: incentives. The current structure of benefits and social protection discourages nationals from working in the private sector. “The good news is that there are still many unexplored opportunities for Qataris in central administration, government enterprises and mixedownership companies that are only constrained by education,” says Professor Tzannatos. “Education reforms are already underway. Social protection reforms can start being rationalized but this can be a long process. The international experience shows that successful reforms require good data (still to be developed in Qatar), careful analysis
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information for difference purposes,” says al Naimi (see interview on pg 66). “There are differences in methods of data collection, definitions, data coverage, time reference point, classifications, and presentations/ breakdowns of the data. added to this data are stored in distinct and independent databases and are rarely crosschecked in regard to comprehensiveness and consistency.” according to the report, if better coordinated, the Statistics unit within the Planning Council would have access to the administrative records of the Ministry of Civil Service affairs and housing, the Ministry of Interior and the Department of Labour. Current analysis is largely based on three population censuses, which only gives a partial view of the labour market situation. The report suggests that the Ministry of Education, Supreme Education Council, Qatar Foundation and any central training agency, should play a key role in collecting, analysing the data and making the appropriate forecasts. Qatarization – the way ahead? When economic structures and incentives do not meet the development vision of a country, laws and regulations can change behaviour and outcomes-and Qatarization is one such policy but implemented under weak linkages between the labour market and the education system, vague guidelines, and complex administrative procedures. Under the 1997 Qatarization policy, Qataris should make up 20 percent of employment for corporations, government-owned companies, mixed firms, and private companies within three years. The policy, which does not specify any minimum size of firms to be covered, could not be implemented in every establishment; small retail outlets, for example,

“We also have a role in helping to facilitate the path to some of the solutions, but it requires the involvement and commitment of multiple private and public sector agencies over a minimum 3-year period to successfully transform the Qatar labour market.” – Sheikh Hamad bin Jabor Al Thani

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labour force increased annually by 2,000 (1,070 men and 930 women) compared with an annual increase of more than 20,000 expatriate workers. Today the Qatari/non-Qatari ratio in the labour force is 1:8. This shortage of top qualified Qataris is associated with an excess of less qualified Qataris. The single more important source of employment among Qatari males has been (since 1997 – the previous census) jobs in elementary occupations in public administration. at the same time unemployment is hitting hardest the young and less educated. The problems for Qatari women are less as three times as many women attend university compared to men. On average, Qatari female workers have 14.1 years of education compared to only 10.7 years for men. No surprise that nearly as many women enter the labour market every year as men. If these trends continue, the labour market in Qatar within one generation may not be that different from that of Sweden as far as gender equality is concerned in terms of employment. So far, the “social contract in Qatar” was based on the more-or-less sole responsibility of the government to care for its citizens. Can this be the start of moving towards a system of ‘mutual responsibility’, that is, a system where the government continues supporting its citizens provided the citizens also help themselves? “Performance-based pay and employment in the public sector and payment of benefits to the needy or those who genuinely seek a job is not just good economics, it is social justice as this leads to the provision of better social services to the needy and rewards the hard working” said Professor Tzannatos. A National Action Plan Sheikh Hamad is confident that a concerted, multi-sectoral approach under the umbrella of a Labour Market Strategy National action Plan will succeed in building sustainable labour market policies to meet the future economic and social needs of Qatar. “The Planning Council will of course continue to maintain and expand the knowledge we developed from compiling this study and will develop further the software model initially prepared by the World Bank as part of the LMS project,” he says. “But, more importantly, we need to start thinking which of the study’s findings are more appropriate for Qatar, how to prioritise policies and sequence their implementation, and how the many different agencies – governmental or others – can co-ordinate across all aspects of economic and social life including education and the broader workforce development system, employment in the public and private sectors and social protection. These are inter-sectoral national issues and nobody can successfully approach them alone.” The above report was provided by the Planning Council of Qatar

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of the incidence of reforms (to protect the poorer segments of the society) and building national consensus,” he says. The economy is expected to increase and diversify further with the adoption of a new developments and planned investments in the energy and industry sectors as well as in tourism, infrastructure, health, and education, but the employment effect on Qataris will be small under the present structure and incentives of the labour market. The World Bank estimates that employment growth will be mainly in sectors and jobs that Qatari workers have little preference for – mainly in the private sector. Qataris are engaged only in high-value-added sectors that can pay high wages, whereas 54 percent of the total labour force are in sectors with “value added” about half or even lower than that in the government sector. Thus the realistic pool of jobs for future Qatarization does not consist of the nearly 400,000 jobs held by expatriates as it would appear at face value. Quite the contrary: the estimates of the study suggest that only about 25,000 jobs in the mixed or private sectors appear to be open for substitution, assuming that Qataris and non-Qataris are technically substitutable in production. however, many Qataris are not well equipped to substitute for more qualified expatriates in rewarding jobs either in the private sector or the public sector and most Qataris do not want to work in low-skill jobs in the private sector or simply outside the public sector. While Qatar is among the top three countries in the world in terms of per capita GDP (a flow) and gas reserves (a stock), the share of its nationals in the labour force is one of the smallest in the world and the fastest declining even among gCC countries. During 1997 to 2004 the Qatari
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Interestingly, for an economy built on oil and gas currently there are six times more Qatari PhD students in education/ arts than in engineering – a mere six Qatari PhD engineers will be added to a $30 billion economy soon.

Interviews by Vani Saraswathi

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More than just an economic initiative
Planning Council Secretary General Sheikh Hamad bin Jabor Al Thani on the whys, hows and what-nexts of the Labour Market Strategy

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why now?

hAT is the Qatar Labour Market Strategy (LMS) National Action Plan and

|a| It is an initiative by the Planning Council aimed at developing labour market policies that will help meet the economic and social development needs of Qatar. We tried to reflect the experience of QP where Qatarisation has been an ongoing issue, because of the robust growth in the energy sector; likewise the issue of manpower planning. Subsequent to this, we felt that it would be really worthwhile to explore this from a country perspective – both public and private sectors. This was the main aim, plus the fact that hh the Emir, hh the heir apparent and HH Sheikha Mozah have been emphasising the importance of nationalisation and education. and also how to better optimise our human Resources. apart from this, we wanted to set a framework, that will integrate all these efforts, and be more cohesive. The LMS is not merely about employment – it also has other social dimensions. So all of that revolves around the human Resources. There are other factors, but the issue of how we want to groom our high school and uniAPRIL 2006 Qatar Today 63

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the future. We involved World Bank labour policy specialists and a multisectoral Steering group from government and private sector agencies to assist in this work. The results of the study are documented in a 160-page report which is very revealing. The report indicates that there are many issues and opportunities for Qatar to address its labour market issues. National Qualifications Framework that would enable learners to better understand and compare the training and education opportunities available to them, but also allow employers to provide input on the type of skills and expertise required of the training and education sector. another issue is the apparent “male education deficit” where Qatari males appear to not be achieving the educational levels required to actively support the economy. We need to better understand why this is happening and develop strategies to address it. Workforce Development – We need to address the way that labour market policies are formulated and implemented while being mindful of the links these policies have with the education sector, for example, the way that expatriate labour is recruited and how Qatarization can be achieved. Public Sector – Our recommendations include the need for Qatar to move towards a system of performance-based employment accompanied by “mutual responsibility”. We would need clear public sector development plans and other initiatives to address these issues.

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versity graduates into our workforce was important. Interestingly, our statistics show that our female workforce (Qatari) exceeds male. There are other initiatives that will complement this. LMS is just one component of the bigger picture. For instance we are venturing into SMEs to see the appropriate framework we need to develop to proceed further with this. We need to develop and diversify the economy and SMEs is one of it.

|q| What sort of issues was revealed in the study?

|q| Why is the LMS National Action Plan important? |a| The labour market in Qatar represents an extremely important component of the overall economic and social arrangements of the country. Qatar is developing a dynamic economic strategy, which among other things, requires an efficient and effective labour market. One of the aims of this economic strategy includes creating employment opportunities for Qatari nationals. In addressing this, Qatarization depends on a complex interplay between economic growth, diversification and public sector modernization. There is a growing need for formal employment planning and customized manpower models that can consolidate the statistical information that is available. also, much of the international labour market strategy experience is not directly relevant to Qatar’s unique situation. |q| how has the Planning Council
initiated this strategy?

|a| Essentially there were four cat-

egories of issues: Labour market information – We need to improve our labour market information systems so that we can collect, manage and share more comprehensive, accurate, relevant and timely data on the labour market, education and households. also, there is dearth of labour analysts and education economists in Qatar, so we need to build this capacity in order to properly project the manpower requirements for the future and more generally integrate labour analysis into broader social and economic policy. Education – There is a range of work that needs to be undertaken under the education umbrella including developing better links between the education sector and the labour market. One initiative would be to develop a

|q| What is the next step then for
that Labour Market Strategy?

|a| The first phase of the Labour Market Strategy work was a study of the way the Qatar labour market currently operates and how local capacity could be developed to provide expertise on labour-related issues for
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“Qatar cannot afford to have short-term solutions. What we’re advocating are long-term solutions, to benefit and support long-term economic and social growth.”

|q| The study has been completed, but we now need to fully share this with all the appropriate stakeholders from the sectors that have an interest or are impacted by labour market issues. We have had a number of key agencies involved to date but we now need to move towards implementing the recommendations, and we’re calling this the Labour Market Strategy National action Plan. The Planning Council is seeking the support of government and private agencies to take up this oppor-

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environment that will truly benefit Qatar for the long term. We have concluded Phase I which is finalising the report’s finding. We will be conducting a workshop that will put more emphasis on implementation. We have made it very practical and do-able in business terms. This is going to be an ongoing project. There will be no end to it, as such. process for recruiting expatriate labour. however, as a strategic policy agency, the Planning Council has a key role to play in providing strategic advice based on our projections of the future and our analysis of the economic and social impacts of those projections. It is our responsibility to bring these issues and analysis to the attention of the country, provide strategic advice and then, where we can, assist with the facilitation of the strategy. We should not and are not responsible for their full implementation but we seek the mutual partnership and ownership of stakeholders to work together on this programme to benefit the country.

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tunity and combine efforts to build sustainable labour market policies that will meet the future needs of the people of Qatar and the dynamic requirements of the private and public sectors. On 9 april 2006, we’re hosting a Labour Market Strategy Symposium, where we will officially launch the National action Plan. This will be followed, during that week from 10 - 13 april, by a capacity building workshop, where the World Bank will train more than 60 people on the types of skills and expertise required to support the implementation of a comprehensive labour market strategy for Qatar. From then on, a number of Working groups will be required to deal with the issues which have been outlined in the report and put together comprehensive implementation plans on how the issues can be addressed and more importantly how we can achieve the sustainable labour market policies and initiatives that are required.

|q| Why is the Planning Council
taking on the role of implementing this Labour Market Strategy National Action Plan?

|q| Is this a short-term solution? |a| Qatar cannot afford to have
short-term solutions. What we’re advocating are long-term solutions, to benefit and support long-term economic and social growth. It is true that some initiatives will take longer than others to implement, but I’m certain that Qatar society will appreciate the value in developing solutions that will provide a viable framework for sustainable economic and social development. For example, establishing a National Qualifications Framework will require much input from many facets of society. Based on overseas best practice, it will take more than three years to properly establish this Framework but the result will be an education

|a| No, the Planning Council is not implementing the National action Plan. The Planning Council, in its role as a strategic policy agency, initiated the study and will assist in the facilitation of the implementation phase – the National action Plan. But various agencies, private and public, will be responsible for implementing those issues under their control or purvey. We would no more tell the education sector how to implement their education programmes, than we would instruct agencies on the

|q| how do you plan to reach the
private sector?

“The Planning Council is seeking the support of government and private agencies to take up this opportunity and combine efforts to build sustainable labour market policies that will meet the future needs of the people of Qatar and the dynamic requirements of the private and public sectors.”

|a| The approach of the Planning Council – in this or in any other project – is through consultation and effective participation from all stakeholders. The executive committee who have been working on this to date, comprises people who represent the private sector, from the chamber of commerce, from the education sector, ministry of interior, civil service and labour department and so on. |q| Does the study address the attitudes and motivational levels of expatriate workforce too?

|a| The Planning Council is launch-

ing other initiatives that are engaging the expats. We are due to launch the Services Improvement project, for example, which will involve getting feedback from clients about the services rendered by government agencies. We do believe that expats are an important part of Qatar’s development. and will continue to be.
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‘Public Sector has become a social safety net’
Strategic Planning Director, Qatar Foundation, Fahad Mohd Al Naimi, who was invited by the Planning Council to manage the national Labour Market Study project, talks about retraining, attitudes and providing an environment of productivity.
N your opinion, what critical area of concern does the Labour Market Strategy report address?

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|a| This project started a year ago, and the objective was to understand the market as a system that is composed of different elements which interact with each other to create the reality we see. Labour market is not just about people in jobs. It covers other domains like education – when we study the Qatari market, our objective is to truly understand the forces that are driving this market. The main component of the labour market are: the education system, the economic sectors and government entities that are in charge of bringing balance to this market. Like any other market, the labour market also has supply and demand sides and in the middle are the administrative entities. The government usually tries to influence the LM, without intervening too strongly, except in the education sector so that we ensure that we have an education system that is in line with the market demand. Second objective was to see what challenges are there in the labour
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The universal values of service, development, being kind... they are almost lost. We are so attached to the social image, and spend our lives on that. But that is not sustainable. So instead of doing a good job, you are thinking about how you can impress your boss and get a promotion! been a way to ensure that they have a means of living. Over the years, public sector has been used as a way to provide security. But now things have changed, with the opening up of the economy. More companies are coming and they are exerting pressure on the public sector. They want efficient and effective services. Now the public sector is feeling the pressure, and is challenged to upgrade its system, which requires people who have a new set of talents and skills. That is the major challenge we are facing now... how do we retrain our people to be in line with the new reality? Countries like Singapore have done this. When they wanted to change to a knowledge-based economy, they found themselves having to retrain hundreds of thousands - and we are facing something similar.

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market. and this is extremely important. Once you understand how something works, you will know where to intervene and what to do, in order to make sure this market is functioning as it should in view of the national objectives. We analysed the education side and also the demand side and determined the misalignment between the two, at various levels of education. We managed to come up with recommendations to realign the supply and demand of the labour market. Now we are about to embark on the second phase where we implement the formulated policies and to ensure that the challenges we are facing in the labour market are dealt with properly.

|q| During implementation, how will you strike the balance between the public and private sectors? |a| You can study all you want, but if you take no action, nothing will happen. The symposium in april will gather all those who are concerned with the labour market issues and show them what we have realised. We will be forming teams, each have its own project and mandate. They will be mainly local players – from representatives of education system and government, to private sector and agencies that help Qataris become employable. |q| Qatar’s public sector has been
growing in size, while elsewhere countries are trying to make the public sector lean...

|q| What is the main problem with the education system? |a| There was a time, when the educated people were considered very special. They used to be the role models. Teachers are no longer as glamorous as they used to be. as a child, I would find that the head of the tribe or family always had a teacher next to him. The place he occupies symbolised the value attributed to the teaching profession in particular and education in general. It is no longer so... |q| But that is true all over the
world isn’t it?

|q| have the challenges been identified in time, here in Qatar?

|a| This is what is happening. The public sector has been like a social safety net for the Qataris. This has

|a| To a great extent, it is more here. Wealth has surpassed education as social value. We are more in the business of managing the impressions of others, than build our character. Instead of developing character, everyone is trying to learn the tricks of managing other people’s impression without really having a substance in place it is as they say “Style over substance”.

“Once you understand how something works, you will know where to intervene and what to do, in order to make sure this market is functioning as it should in view of the national objectives.”

|a| It is definitely easier to deal with problems before they blow up into something big. It is never too late to deal with a problem, it just becomes more difficult to deal with it if you wait longer. But, we are a small country. And our financial and economic situation allows the government to make any transformation that is necessary. Some individuals might find it difficult to meet the change, but in general there is always a way to reconnect individuals with whatever reality is taking shape. |q| Bringing in a new workforce that is trained will be easy. But to retrain those who have been part of the system for years...to tell people that they are redundant in the present function and you need to be retrained...
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this makes expatriates more ready for the labour market, than their Qatari counterparts. On the face of it, the affluence probably looks good. But in essence, if you don’t have stimulating environment that brings the best out of you, you will not enjoy your life. Psychologists tell us that it is unhealthy and not very exciting to go through life without utilising and mobilising all of your talents. at the material level our kids are secured, but that is really not in their interest as this will negatively impact them in the long run. When there is a balance between the challenges you face and the talents you have, then you will be in a happy state of flow. Everyday is an exciting day. If challenges far outweigh your talents then you will be stressed; and with the opposite you will be bored. This materially rich environment makes people less alert. point. This should be the responsibility of various entities that employ both Qataris and non-Qataris. Before we go and ask the individual why he is not committed enough, we need to question if the right climate has been created. Context or climate influences behaviour. When you have a good leader, people want to give their best. It he does not lead well, then people cannot be loyal. Culture in most organisations is not conducive for people to bring out their best.

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|a| It is no easy task whether here

or anywhere else, people don’t like to change. That entails a lot of re-adjusting. We as human beings are part of so many systems, and to change, there are so many linkages – with family, friends, jobs, skills that need to be managed in a new way. It is not easy, but necessary. Many cannot endure the pain of change. Now we are telling all of those people, you have to change, learn these new skills. Some people are ashamed of re-training as they consider that as an indication of something wrong with them. It is a wrong perception. and we need to change that too. Re-training is not about educating the ignorant, but an opportunity to keep up with the changes in reality which is the normal way of being in this life.

|q| Is this being addressed in any way in the report? |a| We are looking at the climate, attitudes – but we are not going deep into it. The study is very comprehensive, and we have identified that there is a need to do specialised studies on organisational culture.

|q| Which is more challenging: addressing the needs of the national workforce or that of the expatriates?
challenging. For historical reasons. For one, the language – English is the dominant language of the labour market, and this is a problem. Qataris have traditionally been going to the Qatari schools, where they study in arabic. Of course, they learn English, but not well enough to become fluent, and be able to think and communicate in this language. another reason can be attributed to the unfortunate fact that our kids have been sort of protected from reality, they have been provided a comfortable living, and this does not motivate kids to develop skills to get ahead, because they already have what they want. So they are not as motivated as the expatriates who come from challenging environments. Their parents are in most cases highly educated. all
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|a| The former is going to be more

|q| Labour market issues in a country like this are particularly unique, given the mix of nationalities. Are you addressing commitment levels of the expatriate workforce too? |a| This is an extremely important

|q| how do you plan to assess the implementation? |a| We have identified the major
issues. We have turned those issues into projects – each of which will have an implementation plan. and in context of these plans, you need to have deliverables, indications that you are on the right track. Evaluation of performance will be reported every three months.

“The public sector has been like a social safety net for the Qataris. This has been a way to ensure that they have a means of living... used as a way to provide security. But now things have changed, with the opening up of the economy.”

|q| reported to whom? |a| To the higher authorities. Something that will be clearer as we go along... But the reporting will be at two levels. First is to those who are in-charge of the particular domain of activities. at the higher level, we will be reporting to the higher authority on the progress made. There will be a mechanism to ensure things are going in the right direction.

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‘Healthy competition, not isolationist policies’
Professor Zafiris Tzannatos, Beirut-based Advisor to the World Bank, and lead author of the Qatar Labour Market Strategy report, on developing the workforce to meet global competition.

|a| The World Bank has extensive
involvement assisting governments in the Middle East and North africa (MENa) region in many areas. It has an intensive programme of technical cooperation in all gCC countries that ranges from broad economic and monetary issues to others such as public sector reforms, private sector development, investment climate assessments, public-private partnerships, financial deregulation, modernization of the stock-exchange, business registration processes, competition law, insurance sector reform, procurement, consumption subsidies, education policies, pensions and so on. In the area of workforce development and social protection (including education and labour markets) I am aware of previous work of the World Bank in various related activities in practically all gCC countries.

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hAT IS the involvement of the World Bank in the region?

|q| how many of the Bank’s activities are in the implementation stage and what is in progress? |a| I do not have the figures readily available, but in early 2000s, when I
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There Is a Serious Education Deficit Among Qatari Men (ratio of men to women age 25 by educational qualification)

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Primary

225% 183% 92% 74% 46%

(even this very day, as we speak) prime examples of delayed reforms that can create opposition to them.

Intermediate Secondary PU University Source: Dept of Statistics, 2004 Census results
left the position of Manager of social protection in the Middle East and North africa (MENa) of the World Bank, we had almost 50 active projects in the area of human development totalling more than $2 billion. at that time, there were also more than 50 reports underway or planned in the area of social protection alone (including labour markets, social assistance and pensions). More generally, the World Bank in the leading multilateral agency in development issues across the world.

|q| What are the major issues (labour) facing the region in general and Qatar in particular?
common characteristics, Qatar is fortunate to be among the top three countries in the world (not just the region) in terms of per capita incomes and also gas reserves. It has also put less emphasis on direct labour market interventions (such as wage subsidies or unrealistic nationalization/Qatarization targets) and is more concerned – rightly – with the root of the problem: are the Qataris qualified and motivated to work in high pay but more demanding jobs? Our analysis suggests that the education sector is thriving in Qatar and, with the right use of expatriate labour; the Qataris should be able to get high wages and avoid unemployment for many years to come. It all comes down to answering (correctly) three questions. First, where will new jobs for Qataris come from? (and the World Bank report already provided a model for utilizing information of employment trends to identify labour shortages – and this model is currently being updated by the Planning Council). Second, will the Qataris be able to take advantage of these new jobs? (and the report provides some specific insights for this, including an analysis of the “male education deficit” in Qatar and the development of a national qualification framework to be used for the creation of a lifelong learning and training system). Third, will new employment opportunities be acceptable to Qatari job seekers, if current policies for hiring and setting work and pay conditions in the public sector pre-

|a| Though the region has some

|q| how did the World Bank get involved in labour issues in Qatar? |a| The World Bank was invited by
the Planning Council to assist in analysing the labour situation in Qatar and provide insights from the international experience. We assembled a team of renowned international experts from all parts of the world (americans, arabs, Europeans and Australians) with significant experience in labour administration, policies and research. Our team collaborated and was also supported by an equally strong team of experts at the Planning Council. Our objective was to provide policy relevant to Qatar and specific recommendations that would address Qatar’s labour problems in view of its emerging developmental objectives consisting of creating a more efficient government sector, diversi70 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

fying the economy through greater involvement of the private sector and increasing the Qatarization of the labour force. These three pillars constitute visionary directions for Qatar’s future and, if successfully followed, they would put Qatar ahead of the curve. In the era of globalisation, what matters is not just to do well (as Qatar is currently doing in a number of economic and social areas) but to do better than others. Nobody is immune from competition and moving faster (not just fast) is often a precondition for a country to capitalise on opportunities that will not be available for long. Now it is the time for a new approach to labour issues in Qatar as it is much easier to reform in a period of economic prosperity than during an economic recession. In this respect Qatar is a visionary as most countries usually engage in labour reforms only after a crisis. Some countries in Europe provide

“This can be also good for other gCC economies which can learn from the Qatari way and adopt whatever good innovation is introduced here.”

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ing productivity, do you foresee any problems in implementation?
Share of Nationals in the GCC LF (1985=100)

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vail? (again, the report examines the issue of work incentives and the role of the welfare state in securing social protection of all citizens without adversely affecting work incentives).

|q| What kind of monitoring will the WB do, during the implementation?
Planning Council and more broadly all Qataris as needed in the future. There are many areas in which we can continue to provide support but others that we should not or cannot. For example, the Bank can expand the analytical work already undertaken using Census data which already provided so many diagnostic insights that can now be improved and updated when more and better data become available. The Bank can also contribute to capacity building in the Planning Council and other agencies (including the education and labour authorities). It can also assist in the formulation of future actions and plans both within the Planning Council and at national level. however, there are things that, even if the Bank can do, they should be done first by the Qataris. It is for the Qataris to now decide what they want to do and by when. Sheikh hamad bin Jabor bin Jassim al Thani, Secretary general, Planning Council has already created working groups in the Council and is working with his colleagues in other parts of Government to define the national priorities and a plan of action. This is as visionary as necessary. Then, as things develop, the Bank can help as needed and when invited.

|a| We will be glad to support the

|a| I would have seen a problem, if it was the report that advocated privatisation or hard measures to increase productivity. This is not the case. First, as I mentioned earlier, the report adopts the policy directions already present in Qatar. Moreover, I understand privatisation is happening carefully and gradually. Both are promising signs that reforms will not hurt and this is happening any way at a time of economic boom. Second, the report does not recommend increases in productivity by retrenching workers or inflicting income hardship to those affected. What the analysis of our report suggests is that there are enough jobs (currently held by expatriates) than can be used as a cushion for Qatari employment (provided this is preceded by good education and training policies) and also that a new social protection system should be developed to take care of the undeservedly poor or unemployed or those affected by reforms. |q| Are the results and follow-up going to affect WB and WB-related projects in the country? |a| I hope they will and in a posi-

|q| Since the report is going to deal with sensitive issues of nationalisation, privatisation and increas-

“In the era of globalization what matters is not just to do well (as Qatar is currently doing in a number of economic and social areas) but to do better than others”

tive way so that our cooperation continues. The Labour Market Strategy (LMS) project benefited from excellent cooperation between the Planning Council (PC) team and the World Bank team and the visionary guidance of the Sheikh hamad, Secretary general, Planning Council. Our engagement in Qatar was a great learning experience for us and I hope the Qataris also extracted something useful form the World Bank. I also hope the existing relationship will grow further and mature in the future, and that Qatar could become a good example of how to apply good labour policies in an amicable way (which is a rarity in the international experience, compared to conflictual labour relations). This can be also good for other gCC economies which can learn from the Qatari way and adopt whatever good innovation is introduced here. In return, Qatar may also benefit from the experiences of its neighbours. Something we know now more than ever before (thanks also to the WTO Doha round!) is that economic development be best be based on cooperation and healthy competition, not inward looking and isolationist policies. This and the tendency towards regionalism (from the EU in Europe to NAFTA in America, and from aSEaN in asia to MERCOSUR in Latin america) leaves no room for complacency in the gCC countries.
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‘There are no jobs for life’
Supreme Education Council, Evaluation Institute, Director (Office of Research) Richard Watkins gives his views on changing careers and getting away from the ‘job for life’ mentality, and how LMS will help Qataris broaden their horizons in terms of choice of careers.
at a fairly critical stage. I have a lot of experience in labour market, particularly in relationship with education. and secondly I had an immediate past with the Learning and Schools council in England (a £9 billion a year operations) and thirdly, I was working here. I came from all of those different perspectives. This is such an interesting project and so far-reaching for Qatar. It has such potential to assist with the creation of Qatar, which has a radically changing future. It has established the securities market, you have Qatar airways, which is the fastest growing airline in the world... It is Energy that is driving the national economy and it is always going to be so... but the other developments will require very, very different sorts of people. and there are only two ways of getting the labour – you either import it or grow it. Now we know from the LMS report that there is no way Qatar will be able to do the latter, because there just aren’t enough Qataris. So we have a couple of potential things. The first is to make sure that all Qataris that leave school and university have the skills and qualifications necessary to fit themselves into a changing labour market. Because other gulf States create lots of jobs in the public sector to disguise unemployment. Qatar has made a very conscious decision to not do this.

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hAT kind of involvement does SEC have in this whole project, and what have been the challenges?

organisation (SEC) is chaired by hh Sheikh Tamim, and the vice-chair is HH Sheikha Mozah. and there is a very real concern here within SEC on education’s re72 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

lationship with the labour market. We were doing certain things – creating independent schools, the higher education institute... There was a clear need to bring together in a clearly articulated way education and the labour market. Because you can’t have one without the other. I got involved not at inception, but

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invested in their training. Immediately after you get rid of skilled and experience people, your productivity takes a nosedive. Even if you recruit thousands and thousands of people, unless they’ve got the immediate skills you need, whether it’s construction or anything else, there will be a dip in productivity. We are looking at helping industries make more consistent attempt in managing their workforces. What this points to is the importance of human Capital investment. You can have the world’s best systems and machinery, but if don’t have the skilled people to run it, to get optimum output, what is the point? people with complex skills – and if you haven’t got them, you have to either import them or provide education and training for your people. People will, as they do in other parts of the world, move within industries. I met someone from QP who has been on the rigs in the water and on the land. and he is a manager. and he was able to make that transition between two very different job skills. You need people who will be able to do that from oil to gas for instance. You need people who can transit across industries, relatively painlessly. They might need retraining or take up a few courses. It might not always be a promotion, but a parallel move that provides a higher level of job satisfaction. It is almost an outmoded idea – the guarantee of a job for life. Virtually no country has it anymore. Because there is so much uncertainty and change. We need to move people sideways into more challenging and fruitful careers.

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On the one hand we have to make sure that the young Qataris, and the Qataris already in the labour force, have the skills, experience and training, first to get the jobs, and second, as the nature of the work changes, they can make the transition – I think many places have been characterised with ‘job for life’ theory – if you become a teacher, you remain a teacher for life. This doesn’t happen.

|q|how do you work on building
a qualified workforce?

|a|We have to make sure that we

have Qataris who both feed the demand, and adapt and change as the industry changes. Similarly, we need to make sure that when Qatar is importing labour, we have identified the right sort of labour that matches the skills that are in demand. You need to align your strategic immigration (and other) policies with your labour market policy. It is also important for young Qataris leaving school and university to know where their employment opportunities are. What’s the point of doing X if there is no demand for X. You don’t have to do a one-to-one matching, but you can give advice. and the labour market study has been thorough, and the results have been well-founded. We know that as many engineers as we can produce, the Energy industry can take them, infrastructure sector can take them... there is a shortage of thousands of engineers annually in Qatar. We are able to give better advice to people as a result of the LMS. The other important thing is to reduce the amount of churning. What’s the point of Qatari employers constantly bringing in thousands of new workers to do projects, having let the previous thousands go, after having

|q| Is the Qatari workforce, in particular, prepared for the implementation of LMS. Is there a tendency to take jobs for granted? |a| It is tied up very much with the
acceptance that we will not have jobs for life. Qatar is building a $5 billion airport that will rival anything in the world. Now, managing an airport and all of the complexities, you need

“What’s the point of Qatari employers constantly bringing in thousands of new workers to do projects, having let the previous thousands go, after having invested in their training. Immediately after you get rid of skilled and experience people your productivity takes a nosedive.”

|q| That brings us to the other big problem – job satisfaction across sectors and nationalities... |a| There is an issue about educating people about education. In a sense that Zafiris points out in his LMS report – Qatar is enormously fortunate. Small population, high net per capita income. In the MENa region alone, the prediction is they need a 100 million new jobs just to soak up the population growth. Qatar has the reverse – it is producing jobs faster than the number of people. We are producing 20,000 jobs a year, and 2,000 Qataris! So they have a great choice of jobs, if that’s what they want. There is a need to introduce Qataris to more modern concepts – it is not a critiAPRIL 2006 Qatar Today 73

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uine need – it is probably arguable as I haven’t been here long enough. But the public service needs was pretty minimal earlier. The issue is, do people feel they are better served because of the size? If yes, then it is justified. In the last few years Supreme Councils for education, environment, technology etc have been set up. But they were in response to specific needs, and those are areas that the private sector will not take up. The government has a legitimate role to step in and help. It is not creating bureaucracy for the sake of it. They are very conscious not just to pad out the bureaucracy, in a way that would be unsustainable. They are going to bring in 100,000 workers in the next two years. and if you don’t expand your immigration and labour department to cope with this additional number, you are going to have problems. If you are a major construction company, and you can’t get off a major project because you can’t get you workers into the country, then you’ve got a major problem. So if a bigger labour or immigration department helps in quickening the immigration process, then the numbers are justified.

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cism that they are old-fashioned. It is just that they will find job and personal satisfaction and creativity in different ways, than they had previously. The radical changes which are going to take place in Qatari society offer enormous opportunities for Qatari people. What we have to do is tell them – ‘look there is an exciting range of jobs, and you need to broaden your horizons. Don’t just think about doing x,y,z jobs... there are exciting, challenging career opportunities’. People are mismatched in their jobs. They don’t like it because they don’t like it! We’ve got to get people to change their approach.

|q| how are you going to localise the results for SEC? |a| One of the issues for SEC is the disturbing trend for young Qatari males to exit school early and without qualifications. It is a trend worldwide that men tend not to complete school. It is a worry in Qatar, because you have huge burgeoning labour market. and if you leave school early without qualification, you will be disqualified from the labour market. This is a worry. We need to be looking closely at what the root causes are for young Qataris becoming disaffected with schooling. We need to understand the background to that, and put corrective measures if required. Maybe change the nature of schooling. also what young Qatari males don’t get is Qatari male role models. almost all those training to be teachers at the University are female. We don’t know if that is a cause too, but we need to get people to seek new careers. and remove gender segregation in careers. The other issue is that we need to be telling young Qataris, whom we sponsor to go abroad and study, these are the shortage areas. If we are going to sink $60,000 a year or more, for four or more years, we’ve got to be reasonably sure that when you come back to Qatar you will find a job that matches your skill. There has to be a return on investment – both public and private good. So coming back to scholarships, it is going be made clear that the world doesn’t owe anyone a living. and you need to respect the assistance you receive and put something back into the country n

|q| So, people need to take risks? |a| Well, we need to give people
the capacity to manage their risks. We must ensure that people are not risk-averse. They only ever do the safe thing. You take account of the circumstances you find yourself in and ask if it would be a good decision. It is not a bad thing to not have a job for life. If you are skilled and adaptable and flexible... that’s what employers want. They are not worried about technical skills. They are worried about literacy, numeracy, the ability to work together, to communicate. That’s what they want, and if you have those, then the likelihood is that you can move between roles far more easily, than if you had only technical skills. So don’t just confine yourself to thinking about public sector, there are other options.

|q| Is that why the public sector is getting heavier here? |a| No, I think that reflects a gen74 Qatar Today APRIL 2006

‘On the one hand, we have to make sure that the young Qataris, and the Qataris already in the labour force, have the skills, experience and training, first to get the jobs, and second, as the nature of the work changes, they can make the transition.’

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