The prospect of re­tire­ment a night­mare for em­ploy­ees

El­der em­ploy­ees seek to de­lay re­tire­ment, while ma­jor­ity of new grad­u­ates strug­gle to at­tain pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ment

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL - By Salih Wal­ad­bagi

El­derly em­ploy­ees in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) in­sti­tu­tions are fear­ing life af­ter re­tire­ment be­cause their salary is likely to be re­duced. On the other hand, new col­lege grad­u­ates crit­i­cize the government be­cause of the dif­fi­cul­ties they face in se­cur­ing jobs in the pub­lic sec­tor.

Based on cur­rent laws in Iraq and Kur­dis­tan, the oblig­a­tory re­tire­ment age for em­ploy­ees in the pub­lic sec­tor is 63.

A 61-year old em­ployee at a government-run bank in Er­bil, whose real name is not re­vealed, said that she does not want to re­tire even af­ter work­ing 31 years in the pub­lic sec­tor. She said that she will lose a no­tice­able por­tion of her in­come. She has pre­vi­ously resided in Ger­many and ob­tained a de­gree in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

She added that if she were to re­tire now, she will al­most cer­tainly re­ceive a rate of around 60 to 70 per­cent of her ba­sic salary. She re­marked that life is very dif­fi­cult th­ese days and the likely pen­sion amount is an in­suf­f­i­cent to live on. She ex­pressed her wish to leave her government po­si­tion and start a new job, “I have very se­ri­ously tried to work in a pri­vate bank, but it un­for­tu­nately did not hap­pen.”

Re­bar Sideeq Muhammed, the KRG’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Re­tire­ment of­fice, in an in­ter­view with the Kur­dish Globe ex­plained that there is vol­un­tary re­tire­ment, be­sides manda­tory, where em­ploy­ees at 55 years of age with 30 years of ser­vice in government can ap­ply for early re­tire­ment. There is an­other kind of ap­pli­ca­tion, he men­tioned, in which those who reach the age of 60 and have served the government for 25 years are also el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for early re­tire­ment.

He also added that the government might not be ready to re­tire some of the em­ploy­ees, even if they reach age of re­tire­ment en­ti­tle­ment. “There are sev­eral ma­jor fac­tors for ex­tend­ing the du­ra­tion of a con­tract for those at the age of re­tire­ment. First, if the po­si­tion is a rare one. Sec­ond, if there is no ex­pe­ri­enced em­ployee to take over a po­si­tion from a per­son re­tir­ing. Third, if the rel­e­vant min­istry or em­ployer asks the em­ployee to keep on his or her job,” he said.

An­other bank em­ployee in Er­bil who should re­tire next year also ex­pressed con­cern about the prospects of life af­ter re­tire­ment. She told the Globe’s Wal­ad­bagi that her hus­band, a re­tired government em­ployee, has a hard time sur­viv­ing on his re­tire­ment pen­sion be­cause he needs to seek treat­ment for a chronic disease. How­ever, she has fin­ished her le­gal ser­vice du­ra­tion of 30 years with the government but said that she is not will­ing to ap­ply for re­tire­ment un­til the em­ployer asks her to ap­ply.

Some of the em­ploy­ees who have reached the age of re­tire­ment con­tinue serv­ing in the pub­lic sec­tor, while oth­ers, es­pe­cially new grad­u­ates and young peo­ple, con­sis­tently com­plain that there are no job op­por­tu­ni­ties for them in the pub­lic sec­tor.

Kawa Yousef, 23, is un­em­ployed and seek­ing a job in the pub­lic sec­tor. He seeks work on a con­struc­tion project or as a la­borer.

“I have ap­plied to get a job in the pub­lic sec­tor, but I can­not get a job be­cause I don’t have a de­gree.” He only went to school un­til the sev­enth grade.

Di­lawar Haw­leri, an un­em­ployed univer­sity grad­u­ate, also said that he grad­u­ated a cou­ple years ago and ap­plied for em­ploye­ment in the pub­lic sec­tor but his ef­forts did not prove fruit­ful. He de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as dire for him­self and oth­ers in a sim­i­lar predica­ment. Re­cruit­ment Mar­ket In the past, in Kur­dis­tan like other places, life for those who have had no pre­vous job ex­pe­ri­ence is about en­duranace and pa­tience. But it has be­come more com­pli­cated and the job mar­ket is not grow­ing as fast as it should be.

Like other places across the world, peo­ple in Kur­dis­tan have over the years been able to find job op­por­tu­ni­ties through their fam­ily, friends and net­work of con­nec­tions. But the sit­u­a­tion has now changed and the mar­ket seek far more ex­pe­ri­enced and skill­ful can­di­dates.

Job va­can­cies are pub­lished ev­ery day in news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, many of which re­quire cer­tain skills and ex­pe­ri­ence or spe­cific lan­guage skills, such as Ara­bic, English or Turk­ish. In­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies in Kur­dis­tan are look­ing for those who are de­ter­mined, proven and ex­pe­ri­enced.

With the num­ber of new grad­u­ates seek­ing work, sev­eral in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal re­cruit­ment and train­ing firms have come into the semi-au­tonomous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion over the past few years.

“There is a huge need for the Re­gion’s mar­ket. We are here to help and find ca­reers for ex­pe­ri­enced and skill­ful can­di­dates,” a re­cruit­ment of­fi­cer in an in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment com­pany told The Kur­dish Globe.

How­ever, re­cruit­ment and train­ing com­pa­nies are a very new con­cept in Kur­dis­tan’s mar­ket, although they look to ex­pand the field.

“We pro­vide in­ter­na­tional ser­vices lo­cally. What­ever a com­pany and or­ga­ni­za­tion would ex­pect else­where, they get the same ser­vices here in Kur­dis­tan,” she said.

For 2012, the KRG de­cided to re­cruit about 17,000 peo­ple in­clud­ing grad­u­ates for the pub­lic sec­tors. How­ever, the KRG re­cruited 25,000 peo­ple in 2011.

"In com­par­i­son to many coun­tries, in­clud­ing Iraq, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion wit­nesses the low­est un­em­ploy­ment rate. De­spite that, the cur­rent level of un­em­ploy­ment ap­pears to be dan­ger­ously high and needs ur­gent res­o­lu­tion," said the KRG Min­is­ter of La­bor and So­cial Af­fairs Asos Na­jeeb.

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