Muscat: Plans by the Omani government to provide more jobs for local jobseekers are on the right track, a senior member of the country’s Tanfeedh labs has said.
In addition to setting up and enforcing Omanisation quotas across the various sectors in the country, Shashwar Al Balushi, the head of the Tanfeedh Labour Labs, said that the establishment of two new bodies to firstly train Omanis and then find them gainful employment was a step in the right direction.
“We have two new bodies now – one was established during the Tanfeedh setup, which was the National Training Fund, and the other one is the National Employment Centre,” said Al Balushi, speaking to Times of Oman.
“These two bodies, once up and running, will facilitate a much cleaner process for local workforces to come through. We have a good number of people coming up as graduates and we are getting young people to accept the jobs that are offered, and getting them to take up these opportunities to gain experience productively, so that they become valuable to the company. The one challenge I think we face is to focus on what to pay attention to when it comes to young people, telling them to work hard and contribute, in order to be sustainable within those companies.”
Both of these organisations were set up as part of Tanfeedh, Oman’s national plan for economic diversification and expansion, which looks to expand the Sultanate’s sources of revenue and gradually move it away from its primary oil-and-gas-based income.
Five sectors of high potential have been identified, including manufacturing, transport and logistics, tourism, energy and mining, and agriculture and fisheries.
“Omanisation policy structures have already been agreed between the Ministry of Manpower and these sectors,” said Al Balushi, “Secondly, these sectors report to a particular Ministry which is responsible for the companies agreeing to and meeting these targets.”
While the Tanfeedh plans will work towards economic diversification, the spin-off of this is the many jobs that will be created for talented local Omanis, which will also ensure companies are able to maintain and even exceed their Omanisation quotas.
Jassim Al Balushi, the Deputy Head of Education and Professional Development at the National University of Science and Technology, said that the next generation of graduates were curious about the nature of the jobs that would be offered to them as the country expanded its economy to incorporate more diversified sectors, and urged them to take up these jobs to help build their careers
“Every day, we get more news about the developments in these sectors, and although they are yet to be fully developed in Oman, these are the sectors our young people will need to work in so we encourage our students to take an interest in them” he explained.
“The government is really encouraging students to invest in these sectors. When we bring guest speakers in they talk, for example, about tourism and why they should invest their time and energy in this sector. We let our students themselves research any sector of their choice, and they come and tell us what career options are available for them. They come up with some good ideas, because they do deep research”
Using the tourism industry as an example, al Balushi explained, “Even in the tourism sector you need planners, you need engineers, you need services, so there will be many opportunities. Unless clear information is available, convincing those who are reluctant about working in these sectors will be hard to do and in that case I would suggest they start their own business in these areas, instead of looking for jobs. That will be the best way to convince them, because then they will discover for themselves what services we lack in Oman and what infrastructure we need to provide to promote tourism”
A new report by the Oxford Business Group, titled The Report: Oman 2019, also states that there are plans to create 67,000 jobs across the tourism, manufacturing and logistics sectors by 2020. The report said, “Oman’s labour market has also been established as a key supporting sector by the government. A number of important short-term goals have been set in this area, to be met by 2020, including an unemployment rate not in excess of three percent, 67,000 new jobs in tourism, marketing and logistics, and the provision of at least 30,000 jobs for Omanis, only as specialists, technicians or skilled workers.
“Meeting these targets means addressing the gap between the demands of employers and the skills of the workforce, which involves measures such as the development of a national qualification system, training programmes for middle and senior leaders, and a strengthening of the governance of vocational training institutes,” added the Oxford Business Group. “The SME sector is identified as a promising source of future employment opportunities, and the Public Authority for SME Development is tasked with providing technical support to viable businesses. These initiatives, however, are more likely to produce results over the medium to long term.”
Ramanuj Venkatesh, a financial analyst in the country, added, “This will be good for the economy in terms of creating jobs for the locals because they can be well paid, which will raise their standard of living and provide them with motivation to join these sectors, hone their skills, and contribute more to the economy. Another reason this bodes well is because manufacturing and logistics sectors have been established in Oman for quite some time, and Oman’s location in a very prominent area of the Middle East means there will be more business, further enabling the workforce to up level their skills.”