No expat hiring without Ministry’s green light
December 5, 2018 | 9:33 PM
by Times News Service
The new version of the commercial work permit service will be launched this month

Muscat: A new traffic light-themed online system will tell employers immediately if they can hire expats but only after they hit their Omanisation quotas.

A new online system, currently being rolled out by Oman’s Ministry of Manpower, will know instantly whether firms hire enough citizens.

Those that do will receive a green light to proceed with visa requests for expat hires.

Those that don’t will end up staring at an online ministry red light until they hire more citizens.

Companies in Oman will not be allowed to hire any more expats for the whole of 2019, if they do not meet the Omanisation levels set in their fields by the Ministry of Manpower.

The ministry is set to launch a new online application that will immediately tell companies whether or not they are meeting these levels, in the form of a three-tiered system.

Under this new electronic work permit system, companies that meet the Omanisation standards will receive a green signal online, allowing them to go forward with the hiring procedure.

A yellow signal is provided to companies that have an unclear Omanisation policy. They will be required to clarify this with the Ministry of Manpower before proceeding with their plans.

Companies that do not meet the Omanisation policies set out will not be allowed to proceed with the hiring process any further, and will receive a red signal until the Omanisation levels that have been assigned to them have been met.

According to data from the National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Omanisation rate in the construction sector was around 8.2 per cent at the end of 2017. In the automotive sale and repair sector, it was around 13 per cent.

The highest rates of Omanisation were found in oil and gas companies (80.6 per cent), insurance and financial services (67.7 per cent), commercial banks (93.1 per cent) and the communication sector (75.9 per cent). The Omanisation levels for hotels were around 28.9 per cent.

“The new system focuses on enhancing Omanisation rates in the private establishments,” said a ministry spokesperson, speaking to the Times of Oman.

“The system depends on the Omanisation index of the private establishments. If they achieve the maximum Omanisation rate, the licence application will go directly to the accreditation stage.”

“The system enables the establishment to view its Omanisation index electronically and thereby identify the obligation to be fulfilled regarding Omanisation and the number of Omanis to be hired,” he added.

The move comes as the Ministry of Manpower prepares to launch the new version of the commercial permitting service during the month of December as part of the project to restructure the procedures of developing the Sultanate’s work permit system.

Khawla Al Junaibi, project manager of the Ministry’s advanced manpower management systems, said: “Through the development of work permits, the Ministry seeks to facilitate the provision of services to beneficiaries. The new system focuses on enhancing Omanisation rates in private establishments by activating the minimum and maximum standards for Omanisation.”

“The new improvements also include linking activities of institutions with related professions to making it easier for institutions to choose the appropriate professions,” Al Junaibi added.

“Some other authorities are involved in the process of verifying that businesses meet the regulatory requirements of those entities automatically and without the need to raise documents from those entities.”

The electronic link will also be activated with some government agencies, including the General Secretariat of Taxation, to verify the registration of the establishment of the tax certificate, as well as improving the mechanism of electronic connectivity with the Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI) and the Public Establishment For Industrial Estates (Madaen); Royal Oman Police and the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD) will contribute to follow up the index of achieving Omanisation rates for the region.

Al Junaibi added: “The updated version allows the registration of non-profit institutions in the system to easily obtain a unified number. This facilitates the process of electronic integration with the unified data of non-profit institutions among the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Manpower, the Royal Oman Police, and various municipalities.”

On November 1, 2018, the Ministry announced the need to register institutions such as embassies, mosques, sports clubs, NGOs, consulting offices, law offices, and government institutions at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry before submitting any service request to the Ministry of Manpower.

Prakerthi Panikar, Head of Department for Education and Professional Development at the National University of Science and Technology, said this would be a good way for companies that wished to further their Omanisation levels to hire students to meet their quotas.

“I think this is a good move because companies now know that they need to meet their Omanisation levels and there are many students who will be capable of now working in these companies,” she said. “The companies that need to hire Omanis will now clearly know that they need to, and they will now know where to get them from as well. We will need to see how this system actually works, but on the surface, it is a good plan.”

“One of the main concerns and leading sentiments among the students here is the availability of jobs, so this will ease that,” added Panikar.

“Some 52 per cent of our students, for example, are girls and they will soon be looking for work. There is a sentiment among companies that female engineers will not stay as long as the males because they will leave soon to start their own families, but they are just as skilled as Omani males and need to be incorporated into the system, so this service will address that as well.”

Juma’a Al Kindy, a student in Oman, said he was hoping this new system would help him get a job, because he was going to graduate next year.

“Many of my seniors who graduated this year said they had to wait for six or eight months to get a job, and many also joined together to form their own business,” he admitted. “With the new system, the exact companies that need to hire us will know it, and hopefully, we can get jobs quickly.”

“The country is trying to speed up its Omanisation plans, so this will help the government identify which companies are following the laws and which ones are not,” added Aisha Al Balushi, a working professional in the country. “We need to follow the Omanisation laws.”

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