In a heartwarming announcement, the gender ministry is at last trying to do a long overdue good thing for the country. This is about providing employment for the disabled. The stated goal is to provide 30 jobs for thirty individuals by this year from participating public companies and government affiliated institutions.
Providing jobs to people able or disabled has never been a priority of any government past or present although politicians will vehemently disagree. Although much noise was made about just doing that, actions spoke louder and the results are there to show. We have a huge unemployment problem the size of which will be known once the census data comes out by then end of this month. In developed countries like USA they do actually estimate how much jobs was shed or created during a particular month. We are far from that level and the ‘authorities’ are really trying to grapple the unemployment monster by doing their typical baby steps. But estimation of our unemployment problem shall not be a very big problem at all. This is a tiny country where we don’t have lots of legacy systems and compatibility of datasets and lots of red tape to hinder such work. All we have is lots of inefficiency and unproductively, lack of imagination to solve problems and passionate political thinking everywhere.
All hope is not lost yet, good things are happening albeit slowly and with every improvement there is reason for optimism.
Armed with partial statistics on jobs in the Maldives, the employment minister it appears have rightly waded in ‘hot water’ territory deriding fellow countrymen for not seeking work. According to the ministry’s latest job survey there appears to be 1639 vacant jobs in various businesses at the moment (in Male’ area) while only 300 applicants seemed to have applied for jobs via their obscure job matching system, hosted in the ministry’s site. The survey seems to indicate that of the total 22642 workers currently working in 24094 businesses, only 12432 workers are local. The minister appears to observe that lack of qualification might be the prime reason why workers remain unemployed despite many vacant positions.
Responding to the minister’s argument in a Haveeru thread, most readers of observes that the youth minister Hassan Latheef is not fully aware of the scope and magnitude of the problem. While its common knowledge that the ‘best’ jobs will be acquired by the most qualified workers, there are so many other problems which checks the workers from applying for jobs. The survey conducted by the ministry does not seem to include anything else except vacant jobs in business properties. It could well include elements to determine the problems why seemingly large numbers of eligible workers refrain from entering the market. In short the many problems why people do not enthusiastically take up vacant jobs could be:
low paid jobs: this is a problem that have not kept up pace with the inflation of the economy and unrealistic expectations of employers.
wage benefits: to a large extent if local and expatriate workers are compared in similar positions in Male’, the local will be at a disadvantage by benefits such as housing and food allowances which mostly does not apply for locals. This is despite the fact that the a large number of locals who work in Male’ are from local islands and pay for their own accommodation in Male’ as well.
inconsistent job specs and unrealistically high qualifications: this defies explanation. Some employers simply ask for bachelors degree qualification even for such mundane jobs as store keepers! In return they are willing to pay only the lowest wages in the market.
Despite the half hearted surveys, its a good sign that the ministry is at least concerned about these issues and hopefully better mechanisms to get people to work will be implemented in the future. This measure is on the heals of another important problem the government is seemingly at work on which is the dollar shortage problem. According to official figures there is a 2m$ outflow of dollars from Male’ as remittances by expatriate workers which is one of the many factors aiding pressure on the pegged dollar exchange rate.
There is news coming from Addu that Shangri-la is ignoring Addu when it comes to recruitment and that they are considering petitioning the management of Shangri-la to reconsider the position. Historically the people of Addu worked hard to let the island of Villingili be build as a resort calling upon, cajoling, taunting and even threatening the government since perhaps the first days of tourism in Maldives. Addu is the second most populous atoll in Maldives and the biggest pool of resort related talent can be found in Addu. With the exception of perhaps a handful of resorts, all resorts in Maldives will have a majority of staff from Addu and the prospect of returning to Addu and getting a job closer to home (in Shangri-la or Herethere) is a dream of almost all of them.
Most big hotel and resort chains have good corporate social responsibility policies designed to help alleviate friction arising from issues just like this and Shangri-la is no exception. However the situation in Shangri-la in Addu is quite opposite from what is preached about Shangri-la CSR policies. It maybe an HR oversight to let unskilled workers be hired from contractors who sent expatriate workers to the resort on a case by case basis whilst the same category of workers can be recruited from Addu which would go a long way to help the cash, employment (or for that matter everything) strapped community of Addu.