Muscat: More expats were hired in the private sector than Omanis last year, according to the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).
Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter
Expat employment grew by 9.3 per cent in 2016 while there was only a 6.4 per cent increase in the numbers of Omanis landing jobs in the private sector.
Government sector expat employment also grew by 5.6 per cent dwarfing national employment growth of just 0.6 per cent – but the government sector already has 85 per cent Omanisation.
“In the private sector, the employment of expats rose by 9.3 per cent as compared to a rise of 6.4 per cent for employment of Omanis in 2016,” the CBO annual report stated.
“The employment generation in the public sector remained subdued and grew by 1.6 per cent in 2015 (as against a growth of 7.0 per cent in 2014), with employment of Omanis increasing by 0.9 per cent and that of expatriates by 5.6 per cent,” the report added.
The Omanisation drive has picked up pace in recent years as Oman battles to diversify away from its dependence on oil and gas. The Minister of Commerce and Industry warned that ‘companies not adhering to the Omanisation quota will find themselves unwelcome at the ministry’.
Experts and company bosses believe compensation packages and the skills gap still need to be addressed, especially at mid-level positions.
“One of the reasons for hiring more expats can be the availability of the right set of skills, qualifications and experience that they possess. This is likely to change in 2017 and we expect more Omanis to be hired. We expect companies to resize themselves, increase efficiency and maintain Omanisation quotas better by 2018,” Shashwar Al Balushi, CEO at Oman Society of Contractors said.
“We try to maintain Omanisation quota as much as possible, however, we hear from a lot of contractors that they need more unskilled workers to do the job. It is impossible to find Omanis for that so expat employment is on the rise there. However, at skilled level we have seen more Omani engineers and supervisors being hired,” Maaz Firdous, Consultant at Al Iskaan Engineering said.
“In 2016, expats were wanted. The spread could be around 60-40 in favour of expats, however, now, Omanis account for nearly 70 per cent of the vacancies,” Farhat Shaikh, Manager at Elite Global HR Solutions and Services said.
“The entry level positions are often filled up by Omanis as visa clearances for expats are stricter and it’s easier for companies to train young Omanis. The problem comes at the middle-management or any mid position, where the skills gap is evident at times, while compensation packages also play a big role for company profits. This is where hiring expats is fine.”
Sectors such as construction are often the least Omanised due to their labour intensive nature. Low income or unskilled workers are often the most hired in these sectors, all of whom are expats, according to Shaikh.
“Accountants and finance jobs have been Omanised at a high rate and other such skilled areas must follow suit. Omanis are able to do a lot of these jobs so they should certainly be hired. Omanis have reduced the skills gap now and we are ready to do more to completely remove this gap that is hindering Omani employment opportunities,” Ahmed Al Balushi, an accountancy jobseeker said.