In the posting earlier, I explained reasons why most Bahrainis are not interested in hotel job from socio-cultural perspective. Here I would like to add some more reasons from socio-economic factors. Enjoy reading...
Wage and Remuneration are the first and the main consideration for Bahraini to take up a job. According to my interview with Dr. Yahya, a lecturer in Tourism Department, Bahrain University, Labour in travel and tourism sector receive low salaries as compared to other jobs. According to Arabia Business survey (GFI, April 2008; p26 – p30), more than two-thirds of workers in GCC consider that they are underpaid, and the worst paid are workers in the travel industry, tourism, hospitality and agriculture sectors with over half earning less than $35,000 a year, and the most common salary range in the survey was $20,000 to $35,000.
Hotel companies are not able to create enough jobs which satisfy the expectations of many medium to high skill Bahrainis. Meanwhile, in the low skill job segment also do not meet the expectations of low skill Bahrainis. Wage expectations are not met, primary because wage levels are set by living conditions, where over half of correspondent (of the survey), mostly Bahrainis, said that inflation had outpaced wage increases. The rising cost of living is the number-one reason why people eventually want to change their employment.
Private sector wages have risen very little during Bahrain’s economic boom, and in some cases expatriate wages have actually fallen. Central bank figures show that the average wage for non-Bahraini men has fallen BD 2 from BD 163 to BD 161 per month over the past five years, and the average for all private sector workers has risen only BD7 in the same period, from BD 221 to BD 228. In the public sector, in contrast, wage increases have been substantial, up from an average of BD 597 to BD 705.
Central Bank figures show that average wage for Bahrainis in the private sector is almost three times that of non-Bahrainis. (Please read main report GFI Magazine “How to get more Bahrainis working in the private sector?” Issue December 2007, page 26 to 30)
Competitiveness; Most Bahrainis in low and medium wage segment cannot compete with expatriate labourers who are much cheaper and perceived to be more productive. Expatriates who generally receive lower salary will make difficult for Bahrainis to compete for the current and event future employment. This issue was admitted by the former head of economist of Bahrain University as a serious problem of the country.
Background as a wealthy oil-producer country. There is a view in Bahrain that the Bahraini workforce no longer wanted to do these lower level jobs, perhaps because they were now too wealthy. Before the oil boom, Bahrainis were cooks, cleaners, construction workers, and held all manner of the jobs in the economy. After the boom, they did not. The question is why.
Consider other countries in the world where per capita incomes and the wealth of the working classes are considerably above that of Bahrain, such as the Scandinavian countries. In a country like Norway, a country with oil resources equivalent to Bahrain, there are still plenty of Norwegian cooks, plenty of Norwegian construction workers, janitors, etc. Why is it that in these other countries, workers who are much wealthier than Bahraini’s are still interested in doing these jobs?
Problem in Communication. Related to the first problem in socio-cultural factors, there is actually problem with communication and awareness of the industry. The government seemed does not pay more attention to take care of the sector in terms of promoting and encouraging locals to take job in hotel industry.
There is no any board or institution from the government who concerns on the image and awareness of for example, benefits of working as an hotelier. The government does not give proper understanding about the area of hotel jobs, for example there are several options and different types of positions available in a hotel or restaurant. If somebody is not really keen to fill a job where he/she has to deal with guest directly, there are still varied positions in back office that he/she does not necessary contact with guests directly.
Moreover, the government should highlight that there are lots of interesting benefits to take career within the industry. There is opportunity for Bahrainis to compete in high level management where they will obtain lots of attractive benefits, such as high salaries, housing, health insurance, international mobility and so on.