A ban on foreigners working as cashiers took effect today in an attempt to boost employment among local young people, almost a third of whom are jobless.
However, overseas workers were still seen working as cashiers, while some employers said they had trouble finding young Maldivians to fill the roles.
The Ministry of Economic Development changed the regulation on migrant workers earlier this year to bar foreigners from working as cashiers in cafés, restaurants and shops.
The ministry also began free training programs in collaboration with businesses for Maldivians wishing to be cashiers, but some businesses remain unprepared for the change.
“My boss came today because I can’t work behind the counter anymore,” said an migrant worker who was previously a cashier at Mariyam Café in Malé.
He is still employed at the cafe but will take on a different role.
Although the new regulation aims to increase employment among young Maldivians, some businesses have experienced problems with younger local staff.
“I employed three or four [Maldivian] youths before. But I can’t manage the business with them because they do not come to work regularly,” said Mohamed Sanah, who runs Laasany, a family-run shop on Orchid Road in the capital.
Ali jaleel, owner of a local goods shop, praised the change in the rules.
“I’m the one who is always behind this counter,” he said. “I see a lot of foreigners working as cashiers.
“It would be a good change for Maldivians to do the job instead of them. At least the money wouldn’t go outside the country then.”
Some 26.5 per cent of Maldivians aged 15 to 24 are unemployed, according to World Bank figures from 2013, the most recent figures available.
Government figures place the number of overseas workers in the Maldives at 58,000, but other estimates place as high as twice that figure. Most are in the construction industry.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Youth Ministry were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
President Abdulla Yameen pledged to create 95,000 jobs in his five-year term. He claimed 17,000 jobs were created within his first year, and claimed credit, but did not provide details.