While Qatari youth see public sector jobs as desirable and rewarding, an increasing number are gravitating towards the private sector, as was evident at Qatar's recent Career Fair 2012.
Over 130 public and private companies offered employment opportunities for young Qatari job seekers at the annual job fair, which ran from April 1st to the 5th at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
Competition between the public and private sectors to recruit Qatari youth is fierce, said Ahmed bin Ali al-Sulaiti, an employee of a local Qatari bank and an exhibit director in one of the halls of the convention centre.
He said he believes the private sector has emerged as a competitor to the public sector, but it still needs to offer more incentives to attract Qatari youth.
"Certain local laws make the government sector very attractive. [In response] the private sector needs to adopt internal policies that offer a housing allowance, which is still low compared to the government sector, annual pay increases and professional incentives, etc.," he said.
Ibrahim Saafan al-Kuwari, a college student in his senior year, said he favours working for government institutions over private sector companies for several reasons.
The public sector offers more job security as well as incentives and pay raises now granted on a periodic basis in government institutions, al-Kuwari said. Also, government employment is often attractive to young people because of the career advancement opportunities it offers, he said.
"Most government institutions provide their employees an opportunity to complete their study with full pay, which is not generally the case in the private sector, and when it is, it pays half the salary," al-Kuwari told Al-Shorfa.
Oil sector jobs are perhaps the most sought-after by Qatari youth, said Jumaa al-Muhannadi, who studies at an international university.
"A year ago, I was offered an opportunity to study abroad on scholarship from a state-owned oil and gas company, and I am now making arrangements to work for that company after graduation because the oil and gas sector has many distinct advantages," al-Muhannadi told Al-Shorfa.
The sector offers lucrative salaries and greater job stability, he said.
"The oil sector is growing and profits trickle down to you one way or another, not to mention the opportunities provided by the sector to pursue education while maintaining full privileges," al-Muhannadi said.
Other commercial sectors also drew a large number of job seekers, especially the public banking sector, said Ibrahim al-Khulaifi, an economics student with only one year left until graduation.
"State-owned banks are experiencing steady growth in business, which positively affects employees. Also, work is steady and work hours are short, which makes working in the sector very enticing for young people," he told Al-Shorfa.
September 2011 saw soaring pay raises for civilian and defence employees in the public sector. Basic salaries and social allowances increased 60% for civilian employees, while military personnel of officer rank received a 120% increase in salary and allowances.
Although the public sector on the whole remains more attractive to Qatari youth, there are some private sector companies that offer superior benefits such as salary, allowances and leave, said Khaled al-Khulaifi, head of human resources at Qatar's Bureau of Statistics.
"I noticed at the fair that young people were gravitating to private sector companies to submit their resumes," he said.
Al-Khulaifi said he believes the reason for this gravitation is financial. Though some private companies impose stringent terms of employment on applicants and their work is hard and gruelling, these companies are more financially rewarding to work for than public ones, he said.