A glimpse into the 2nd Annual Kurdistan Careers Conference

Aras Ahmed

By Aras Ahmed Mhamad:

At the opening of the 2nd Annual Kurdistan Careers Conference on September 4, 2013, there was a huge wave of job seekers, estimated at around 1,000, marching towards the exhibition and the sponsors. Employers keenly explained their company’s requirements and profiles to these job seekers. Nearly 45 national and international companies were present. This conference was a follow on from the 1st Kurdistan Careers Conference, held last year.

Media agencies enthusiastically covered the event because the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, came to launch it. Speaking to the press and the audience, he started with the English word “Ready” and a smile, which was a kind of joke, to capture the attention of the crowd.

At the beginning of the Conference the PM strongly emphasized the importance of such kind of events to better facilitate job opportunities in the private sector because the region is undergoing a gigantic economic boom and the labor market is quite motionless, comparing it with the acclaimed industry and energy growth. The Kurdistan Works website- kw.krg.org- is an online information portal service created to broadcast job vacations across the region and reduce unemployment issues.

The PM several times referred to the significance of the participation of young Kurdish students and said that the government cannot employ all the graduates. He considered the conference as an essential initiative and tool to further boost the economic infrastructure of the KRG. The conference, supported financially and logistically by the KRG, was a joint project between the private and the public sectors aiming at providing a platform to discuss job opportunities and increase cooperation between the two sectors.

The most important purpose of the conference and exhibition was to make the private sector more attractive through engaging and establishing a direct contact between the employees and the employers. Employees, in Kurdistan, don’t have the chance to meet their employers in the public sectors as employment in the public sectors mostly depend on degrees and marks not skills, enthusiasm or willingness.

During the exhibition, I came across many different types of employees searching eagerly to find their destination. One particular employee, accompanied by her parents, was quite ardent about getting a half-time-job as she was a student. Her problem was the employer wanted someone who can speak English, Kurdish, and Arabic. Besides, the translator/interpreter needed to know the four dominant Kurdish dialects, which are Sorani, Krmanji, Zazaki, and Badini. Born in Hawler, she was quite surprised about the high level of requirements. Technology and the industry are intolerable of amateurish job seekers and the labor market has become a place for the battling of skills in today’s complex business world.

The exhibition was dominated by energy and technology companies. High demand was primarily for engineers, technicians, oil specialists, business administrators, accountants and designers.  This fact has to be reconsidered by the high officials of Kurdistan’s universities and policy makers at the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. There must be a radical shift from memorizing theoretical material to practical training.

What makes the private sector more attractive is the fact that they offer a better salary. However, there are some shortcomings of the private sector. Companies mostly choose returning Kurdish workers and foreign workers in comparison to local workers and the future of the employee is not secured in terms of retirement and the benefits of a piece of land. Longer working hours is another reality in the private sector.

It has become a cultural fixation that most graduates rely on the government for employment and they look at the government as the prime source of employment. What is really imperative for the KRG is to encourage and even force both internal and external companies to employ potential Kurd job seekers and graduates. To recruit more Kurds, Kurdistan’s universities should prepare capable graduates with analytical and practical expertise and not just distribute certificates.

Although the private companies are slowly responding to the growing demands of job seekers, it is an historical dilemma for countries on a transitional road to adapt the populace to today’s fast-growing world. The demand and supply balance need to be met through continuous training programs and special courses in the various industry fields. For the betterment of Kurdish society and provision an array of wide-ranging services, collaborative effort between public and private sectors is indispensable.

Several factors, over the past eight years, has driven international companies to come to Kurdistan to invest and invest big. Rich oil revenues and natural resource elements, vigilant security forces and safety measures – compared to the other parts of Iraq- have all made it easier for opening new consulates in Hawler. The giant holdings and companies such as Chevron and ExxonMobil rushed into the region in 2005 to explore and extract oil and gas energy, despite the Iraqi central government’s criticisms of the terms of the contracts. International schools and university investors are continuously appearing; new hotels and shopping malls are built in the cities of Hawler, Slemani, and Duhok; highways and underpasses are apparent; buildings pop up everywhere: these are the most observable features of Kurdistan, nowadays.

Technology is growing fast and has become an inevitable part of life, with growing demand for technical instruments such as iPads, iPhones, and other smart devices. Administrative systems in Kurdistan and the work policy urgently need to move toward a brighter horizon to meet global requirements – that is why it is necessary to reach out to other cities to hold these kind of conferences.

In conclusion, the 2nd Annual Kurdistan Career Conference reflected the hearts and minds of the young Kurdish people and their natural talents, flexible personalities and individual strengths to bring sustainable improvements to Kurdistan.

Aras Ahmed Mhamad is a freelancer. He is the Founder and Deputy Editor of SMART magazine, an independent English magazine that focuses on ‘Literature, Language, Society’. He is the Top Student of College of Languages at the Department of English/ University of Human Development, 2012.He is the Cultural Analyst at the Kurdish Review Newspaper. He is a contributing writer for doznews.com, ekurd.net and a columnist at the Kurdistan Tribune.

Copyright © 2013 Kurdistantribune.com

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