Can you give our readers some insight into what inspired the creation of MSelect?
As a frontier market early in its development stage, Kurdistan presents many opportunities so I was always looking for a gap in the market, something that worked elsewhere and didn't involve reinventing the wheel. I'd then try to match that with my skills and knowledge and see if there was an opportunity. A recruitment agency fitted the profile, this type of business was not well known yet there was a clear demand. I think at the time of starting up there was only one local company doing this. We try to model the company on a traditional style agency focused on customer service.

What specific services does MSelect offer to both employers and candidates?
MSelect offers several services relating to staffing solutions, including recruitment, outsourced management, and training. Our clients gain peace of mind of getting to understand the local rules and regulations from a local company that has experience dealing with many international corporations operating in Kurdistan.

Our use of technology demonstrates we are always looking to improve our services by using systems to help us manage different processes efficiently. Candidates trust in us to give them all the advice needed to find a job. We provide education and insight on CVs, interviews, and general corporate etiquette. Any job seeker can contact us for help throughout any part of the recruitment process. We try to make it as simple as possible for candidates to apply for jobs, and our website has been designed with this in mind.

Does the education system in Kurdistan impact hiring practices?
Kurdistan is definitely producing extremely bright students; employers are often surprised by the quality of the Region’s graduates. Finding educated people is not a challenge in Kurdistan but the issue is we do not have a large enough variety of qualifications from our candidates. The education system needs to introduce specialist degrees of study, such as hospitality to service the upcoming tourism boom we are expecting and up-to-date oil & gas engineering courses for example, with a lack of skilled talent coming through the sectors growth could be hindered.

Does the current lack of a diversified educational system pose a potential threat to the development of the economy in the Kurdistan Region?
With so much investment flooding in and so many projects planned, the skills shortage poses a potentially huge problem, especially since there is no quick fix. However, with increased investment in education and training combined with further assistance from the government, I believe we will start seeing this knowledge gap get filled. The KRG needs to launch centers in order to produce technically skilled graduates required to address the gap, this is common in other countries who aim to fill industry needs.

In addition, international companies, especially those in the oil & gas sector, need to work closely with schools and colleges to educate students about the incredible careers available as energy engineers. These schemes need to be introduced at an age where students are making key decisions about further study. These companies can also introduce internship and graduate schemes together with entry-level vocational training.

What would you say is the future of employment in the Kurdistan Region?
At the moment, there is a mismatch between skills and jobs, especially amongst the job seekers in rural areas. These people need to acquire the necessary skills and training to enter the working environment and become part of Kurdistan’s growth story. The main beneficiary of a skilled workforce will be the private sector, as this is where the majority of the growth will happen.

I think we could expect employment to inevitably move job seekers from rural areas into the large cities, a major factor is having a weak agriculture industry. Any local with a good command of English will want to work for an international company. The obstacle becomes moving non-English speakers to private sector jobs with local companies. Currently, job seekers prefer the public sector to a locally established company. This will take some time to change, but will happen once local employers begin providing training programs and defined career paths.

In most countries, the private sector is the major contributor for national income. I recently read that 1 in 2.5 individuals in Kurdistan is on the KRG’s payroll, this constitutes roughly 65% of the budget. As the government is actively working to educate job seekers and promote the private sector, we are beginning to see the early signs that this shift is taking place. A large portion of our role is to promote the private sector. However, for this shift to be successful, the KRG itself must become the main motivator for change. The current economic environment makes it plainly clear that a business-friendly government runs Kurdistan. More than anything, this must continue to be the case so that economic growth and job creation remain constant.