What's holding young Omanis back from choosing the right careers?
September 20, 2017 | 9:18 PM
by Times News Service
Young Omanis expressing discontent on social media about employment opportunities.

Muscat: Young Omanis are unwilling to take jobs in emerging sectors in the country because they do not know what the future will bring, according to experts in the Sultanate.

In the past week, the hashtag #Omaniswithoutjobs has been trending on Twitter, with young Omanis expressing discontent about employment opportunities.

Read here: Why Omani graduates are driving buses, waiting tables at restaurants

In a single hour, tweets featuring that hashtag were sent out more than 100 times, reaching 153,787 people.

On Wednesday morning, another hashtag, #Omaniswithoutjobs2, also spread across Twitter, with 100 tweets being unleashed in just six minutes and 53,529 reacting to it. Ahmed Al Hooti, chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, feels that young Omanis are unsure about their futures if they take jobs in developing sectors.

“It is a shame that we have only about 200,000 Omanis working in the private sector,” he told Times of Oman. “The Omanis are not qualified to work in many sectors, but at the same time we have to ask ourselves, are the foreign employees here qualified to work in all sectors?

“Why are the current generations of job-seekers not taking enough courses to enable them to work in these sectors?

“If the private sector is asking for qualified people, why are Omanis not being trained when the money is available?”

Maimunah Shebani is managing director of The Retail Agency Oman, which specialises in providing residents with the skills required to work in retail. “Many Omanis want to work either in banking or in the oil and gas sectors,” she said. “However, they need to have the patience to start at a certain level and then rise in their profession. If they have the right skills, there are plenty of opportunities available for them.”

“There needs to be more awareness among young Omanis regarding the opportunities in other sectors, because currently there seems to be a lack of understanding about possibilities,” noted Shebani. “The retail industry, for example, in Oman, is not given enough importance, and that is why people do not know much about it, or look at it as a last resort.”

Oman’s Tanfeedh directives, aimed at expanding the economy, are targeting the under-developed mining, agriculture and tourism sectors, but locals are concerned about whether they will be able to earn the same amount as in other fields, said Jassim Al Balushi, deputy head of professional and educational development at Caledonian College of Engineering.

“When a young Omani gets a job, the first thing he does is go to the bank and apply for a loan so he can get a house and a new car, so that he can begin to secure his future,” he told Times of Oman. “In these new sectors, they are worried about the salaries that will be offered to them, because then they will not be able to apply for loans.

“As long as Omanis have certain assurances that they will be paid a proper salary and there are good career opportunities for them to grow, they will be happy to take these jobs. But even if they don’t want to work here, these are the fields that are growing in the future so, sooner or later, they will have to work in these areas.”

Despite calls for the government and private sectors to provide more job opportunities to young Omanis, Hilal Al Sarni, Majlis Al Shura member for Seeb, said citizens needed to be more proactive.

“Young Omanis need to know that the government will always work to raise the living standard, based on the current capabilities,” he added. “Additionally, Omanis must accept that there are sacrifices being made by the government, and should be made by the citizens, too.” One Omani, who works in the tourism sector, encouraged others to follow suit.

“I decided to go into this field because I could see the potential that the country had in tourism, and I wanted to become a stakeholder in driving the tourism forward,” he said. “People’s mentalities plays a major role in the decision they make when picking their degree. Here, students focus more on what they want and less on what the country wants.

“I think the next generation should be focusing on what the country wants, to look at renewable energy, agriculture, tourism, and what the future plans of the country are,” he added.

Earlier this year, the National Centre for Statistics and Information published a report which stated that the majority of job-seekers are in the range of 25 to 29 years old, with most being college graduates.

Some 50,000 Omanis are looking for jobs, this being an 11% increase in the number of job seekers across the Sultanate, as of the end of July.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news