Muscat: Omanis who refuse to be employed in ‘blue collar’ jobs are harming Omanisation rates in certain sectors.
Citizens are not keen on accepting employment in the construction industry, a sector reserved largely for expatriate workers, according to the CEO of the Omani Society of Contractors, addressing the issue of disparities between the supply and demand of jobs for the Omani workforce.
According to Shahswar Al Balushi, head of the government’s Tanfeedh labour lab programme, Omanis are turning down blue collar jobs for understandable reasons.
“The salary paid is low and living conditions are different. These are the jobs that Omanis don’t want to do,” he said.
Currently in Oman, there are limited sectors and fields providing similar kinds of job opportunities to prospective employees, especially young graduates.
However, there is an increasing demand for more professions which, unfortunately, isn’t available in the job market. Hence, there is a growing disparity between what young, qualified graduates want, and what they are provided with.
For instance, the construction sector is the single largest and most active sector in the country. They employ over 750,000 people, a good portion of whom are blue collar workers.
“At the moment, the competition for these jobs is among expats coming in from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, etc.,” he said.
Currently, the Omanisation percentage in the construction sector, according to the law, should be 30 per cent, but this is not being reached due to various reasons, including the unwillingness of Omanis to take up blue collar jobs that are required in the construction sector.
In order to bridge the gap between supply and demand, Shahswar suggested that new businesses need to be allowed in the market.
“You need to allow the private sector to create different types of businesses. Suddenly, when you have all these diversified businesses, each diversified profession will have its specific specialisation.
“With this, we will not only absorb every type of expertise we have locally, but we will also be asking for new types of expertise to come into the job market,” he said.
Need to prove
Ahmed Al Khonji, head of the Part-time initiative at the Ministry of Manpower, told the Times of Oman, young Omanis should prove themselves while they are working in the private sector companies.
“They should work hard in the first year of joining at the private sector.
“Though they start with less salary, companies do reward them if they work hard. Many Omanis have proven themselves in the private sector. They started with low salary but later got increments in the company and were even invited by other companies. Just work hard,” Al Khonji said.