Welcome to my private journal generally on Brunei issues. Any opinions expressed are in my personal capacity. All rights to the articles are reserved.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unemployment in Brunei

Unemployment is an interesting issue especially for Brunei. No one really knows how many unemployed there are. We have job seeker registrants but not everyone of those is unemployed. And there are unemployed who are not registered. But then counting unemployed has never been easy as every country has a criteria of counting unemployment.

The more interesting thing is what is that country doing about it. We have about 6,000 vacancies in the civil service. The SPA can't process fast enough for all the jobs to fill as there are also about 600 to 800 retirees every year. And not everyone of the 6,000 jobs are for entry level graduates as some of them are very senior position or very junior position. The more junior the post the harder it is to recruit as there will be more applicants for the jobs - so the process of selection is longer.

That leaves the private sector. Is the private sector not big enough? Take out a small percentage of the 100,000 foreigners, there must be some jobs left over for locals?

Economic Growth Not Fast Enough, Say VC
By Shareen Han

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's economy is not expanding fast enough to provide sufficient jobs for university graduates, said Universiti Brunei Darussalam's vice-chancellor.

It is a demand and supply problem, and some graduates are not willing to work in the private sector because they know that there are more benefits in the public sector, Dato Paduka Dr Hj Ismail Hj Duraman told The Brunei Times in a telephone interview yesterday.

"In the minds of locals, the private sector cannot compete with the public sector because it has more benefits compared to other countries that have a tax system," he said.

He said most locals need to "tackle their attitude first", in order to make the implementation of national policies more effective in the long term.

"It is a paradox that locals are not taking up the jobs, but foreign workers are taking it instead," he said.

One of the reasons why employers hire foreign workers is because they are cheaper and locals are too selective in choosing jobs which are mostly filled up by foreign labour, he said.

Moreover, some of the unemployed locals may come from well-to-do families, so they would rather enjoy life with their families, he said.

"There is no simple solution, a concerted effort by everyone is needed," he said, adding that graduates should be more proactive and take up any available job opportunities, including apprenticeship programmes.

"The attitude will only change when a crisis arises, because there is no shocking factor at the moment that they need to make a drastic change as the oil and gas is still there," he added.

The vice-chancellor said that one of UBD's roles is to equip students with the knowledge and skills, but employers are always looking for "something extra" in workplaces.

"Thus, I made the speech (at the 19th convocation ceremony) to graduates that they need to bring added value to the organisation that they work for," he said.

Dato Ismail also noted that UBD is currently doing research on unemployment in Brunei because the statistics that are currently available may not be accurate and regularly updated. There are 313 local jobseekers that fall under the technical, vocational and university graduates category, based on figures from the Labour Department for the month of June.-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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