Dubai: More than 67,800 expat workers have left Kuwait in the first-quarter of 2021, according to a new labour market report by the government.
Indians topped the list with 21,341 of them departing the country of whom 10,169 were domestic workers, followed by Egyptians, with 11,135 workers, Bangladeshis with 6,136 and Filipinos with 2,543 workers.
According to official figures, the total number of workers in the labour market was 1,536,033 in the private sector and 411,464 in public sector until the end of last March.
As for the domestic labour sector, the total number of workers was 651,265 until last March, a decrease of 17,398 compared to the statistics recorded at the end of last year.
Experts attributed the huge number of expats leaving the gulf country to Kuwaitization and retrenchments in the public sector along with business closures and production cuts in manufacturing during the COVID-19 crisis, which left many expatriate workers jobless or facing extended layoffs without salaries.
Many of those workers eventually decided to call it a day and return home for good. A report on the labor market found that nearly 200,000 expatriates had left Kuwait in the one year since March 2020.
In addition, the Public Authority for Manpower’s decision to stop renewing visas of expatriates over 60 years of age if they did not possess a university degree or diploma exacerbated the issue. More than 42,000 foreigners were affected by the PAM decision and are said to have left the country since the law was announced.
Accordingly, Kuwait’s restaurant and hotel sector is reported to be suffering from a severe shortage of workers, including those in delivery services, due to the suspension of recruitment from abroad, Al Qabas said.
The newspaper said it has obtained a copy of the governmental report showing a decrease in the number of workers in accommodation and food services from March 2020 and March 2021.
Fahd Al Arbash, Head of the Restaurants Association, stressed that “restaurant owners have been unable to operate properly due to the suspension of the recruitment of foreign workers and scarcity of specialised workers with experience such as cooks, bakers, sweets makers and others.”
Al Arbash said the available workers in the local labour market are not specialised in restaurant operations and it is not easy to train them to join the food industry.
He added the salaries of workers in catering services have more than doubled due to the lack of workers; such that a cleaner in a restaurant now receives KD300 salary compared to KD150 in the past, while those specialised in the restaurant sector are now paid KD1,000 compared to KD400 in the past.