Mustafa Al-Sarai – Department of Political Studies at the Bayan Center for Studies and Planning

Hiam Ali Al-Marhaj – Department of Women’s Studies at Al-Ban Center for Studies and Planning


Employment policies in Iraq in the field of the public sector suffer many problems and dialectics due to the general conditions in which these policies are managed and developed, in addition to the general distortion in the structure of the Iraqi economic system. The process of employing young people, whether graduates or non-graduates qualified to enter the labor market in Iraq, has become a major challenge facing successive governments from 2003 to the present day. This challenge is linked to many social, economic, and political obstacles, such as the proportion of the population and the proportion employed according to the population and the real need for employees in the public sector, as well as the unemployment rate and productivity of employees and ensuring a source of income for young people who seek to engage in the labor market and build a middle-income middle-class society. All these factors and challenges lead us to discuss Iraq’s employment policies from different angles.

Through this paper, we try to identify the nature of the management of employment policies and their ability to secure the market with workers in line with the needs of the labor market, and the extent of the ability of this policy to provide job opportunities and reduce unemployment rates. In this paper, we discuss the reasons why public sector employment is a spoil that everyone seeks to obtain, and what political, economic, and social reasons support this trend. In this paper, we focus on the Iraqi government’s eighth (current) steps in the issue of public employment and significantly increasing the number of young employees.

In this paper, we relied on government data statistics and official statements, and we also conducted many interviews (15 interviews) with young people who recently got government jobs. In this paper, we seek to analyze employment policy in Iraq and focus on the most prominent challenges facing young people in the government work environment.

The labor force in Iraq:

The composition of the population in Iraq poses great challenges for the government to provide job opportunities for the growing numbers of citizens, especially young people who join the labor market annually. The issue of population and labor force is one of the most difficult challenges facing the Iraqi government, as a result of the lack of accurate and official data on the total population and the percentage of the labor force in Iraq, whether in the public or private sectors.

According to the estimates of the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, the population of Iraq in 2023 was approximately (43 million), and the proportion of young people (aged 15-24 years) who can join the labor market according to the latest statistics for 2021, was about 8 million people. In addition, the number of able-working adults (25 years and older) reached nearly 17 million, bringing the proportion of able-bodied people to work close to 25 million.

Concerning the numbers of public sector workers only, the absence of accurate data is a challenge. According to the official spokesman for the Ministry of Planning (Abdul Zahra Al-Hendawi), the number of employees in the public sector in the last quarter of 2023 is expected to reach approximately (3 million and 700) thousand employees registered on the job number platform.

This number also includes graduates, holders of higher degrees, first and contracts recently added to the budget, estimated to number about (400 thousand) degrees. However, due to the absence of accurate data, these figures remain mere estimates, as it is difficult for the state to make accurate statistics.