Muscat: Skills in cutting-edge technology, healthcare, and those that help in self-sufficiency and economic resilience will be in demand in Oman after the COVID-19 pandemic, which will create thousands of jobs for talented Omanis and skilled expatriates.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted economies around the world, often stretched supply chains, impacted the way people work, and has shown the value of sound healthcare, and experts in the country say these jobs will make sure Oman and other countries are more resilient in the future.
“There is a list of jobs that we think are the jobs of the future,” said an official from the Ministry of Labour. “You will need diversity in skills: The skills of the future will be in areas such as cybersecurity and automation. I see changes in the services industry, where there could be more opportunities to employ artificial intelligence and data-based services.
“There will never be fewer numbers of jobs, rather there will be new openings to serve differently,” he said. “I don’t see people gathering at a common location for work, rather, they will work from a distance. Therefore, you need to educate people to have the right skills.”
It is important to build economic resilience, make sure essential products are produced domestically, and strengthen healthcare services, said Jassim Al Balushi, the deputy head of training and professional development at the College of Engineering at the National University of Science and Technology.
“Many will be in the health sector,” he said. “Public sector roles will not be limited to just nurses and doctors, but there will be a need for more pharmacists, caregivers, and others related to medical services. There will be more roles generated in training, awareness programmes, research and development, and decision making.
“You are going to need more positions in academic and research institutions, open private labs, and create opportunities for pharmaceutical companies,” he added. “This aside, you need virologists, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts, in addition to frontline emergency services such as paramedics. There is also going to be a need for crisis managers to help respond to such situations.”
The manufacturing industry, particularly those related to food, beverages, and medicines, are also likely to see more job creation, as the country looks to be both resilient and self-sufficient, instead of relying on imports, which could be affected by changes to supply chains, in the event of incidents such as the pandemic.
To make sure these goods on time get to where they are needed, more logisticians, planners, warehousing, and transport opportunities are required. Economic expansion, though, must not come at the cost of environmental damage, he said, which means companies need to adopt green policies, and there is likely to be more focus on renewable energies.
“Of course, all this needs to be backed by sound government policy, in the form of disaster management and crisis response,” said Al Balushi. “This needs to be looked at by risk management specialists who look at the financial, societal, environmental, and political impact of the decisions made. There also needs to be new labour market policies that will govern the new jobs and services.
“New approaches to education, and a sound learning infrastructure are required – we saw how the pandemic affected our children’s ability to go to school and learn,” he explained. “Tech, and its impact on data, entertainment, information and other areas we consider important to our society and economy is going to have a huge role to play. Careers in tech will likely see a boom.”
Dr HeshamMagd, head of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the Modern College of business and science, highlighted similar roles to the above across seven sectors: healthcare, IT and e-commerce, higher education, SMEs, agriculture, tourism, and hospitality.
Going further into these areas of employment, he expects there to be increased demand for educators, lawyers, risk and insurance personnel, marketing professionals, specialists in virtual reality, software developers and programmers, and more employment in tourism, hospitality, and event management.
“Due to the advancement of the technological and digital age, I believe these changes will be long term and will remain for a while,” he said.
However, Magd added it would take time for educational institutions to put in place the facilities required to teach the large numbers of students required to fill these roles.
“Private universities may be able to move faster than public ones, but this also depends on the size and vision of the institution,” he explained.
Dr Syed MujahidHussain, the head of the Department of Economics and Finance at the College of Economics and Political Science at Sultan Qaboos University, added that one of the rare positives of the pandemic has been the need for us to adapt and find alternative ways of getting things done.
“People have realised there are other ways to go about their daily lives,” he explained.
“People will continue to stick to online services even post-COVID, and computer science jobs such as those mentioned above will be in high demand to support online businesses. Universities are realising the new trends in the job market and need to work on offering new skills and courses to meet changing market demands.”