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
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.