Muscat: The number of educated expats in the country has decreased, according to figures released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
The number of undergraduate expats has dropped by 10,330 in the last three years. According to NCSI, there were 94,461 undergraduate expats in the Sultanate at the end of December 2015, while there were 84,131 at the end of August 2018.
This is a fall of almost 11 per cent. Similarly, the population of diploma holding expats fell by 5,008 during the same period. NCSI disclosed that there were 53,515 expats with a diploma in Oman back in December 2015. Their number has declined to 48,507 in August 2018, a 9.35 per cent decrease.
There were 5,869 expats with a master’s degree to their name in December 2015, while there were 5,119 of them in August 2018. This is a fall of 684, around 12 per cent.
There were 2,844 expats with PhDs in Oman back in December 2015, while there were 2,594 of them in August 2018, recording a drop of 250 and 8.79 per cent.
This is despite the fact that there are currently more expats in the country, as compared to 2015.
However, expat numbers fell in 2018 compared to 2017, which could at least partly be because of the visa ban instituted by the Ministry of Manpower, which led to a freeze on the hiring of expats across 87 professions in January 2018. That ban was extended for another six months in July and is still in effect. Some observers put this down to more Omanis joining the workforce and occupying the jobs that these expats might have otherwise held. However, the workforce still continues to be dominated by overseas workers.
Expats who are undergraduates, diploma-holders and those with master’s degrees saw their numbers fall more than those with other qualifications, such as doctorates.
Shahswar Al Balushi, the CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors, said that the fall in the number of qualified expats could be down to the increase in Omanisation.
“There is greater Omanisation in the workforce. There are many more Omanis graduating every year and ready to take over. I believe we have enough skilled Omanis to step in under the current economic situation. However, greater growth will bring in more expats.
“Omanisation is of course natural and the process is continuing. It is our job to keep creating good jobs for Omanis and maintain a culture where they can accumulate experience,” he added.
Insurance is a sector that has seen one of the highest rates of Omanisation. Muscat Insurance Company (MIC) CEO Philip K Philip said that his company had a robust Omanisation rate, adding that their Omani employees were competent. However, the visa ban had ensured a near complete freeze on the hiring of expats in the company, he added.
“The visa ban is pretty much a full stop for us, as far as hiring of expats goes, but we meet the required rate of Omanisation at all the different levels. We have talented Omanis, especially at the middle management level. In fact, we have Omani managers at all our 22 branches,” Philip said.
Al Balushi added that fewer construction projects in the country could also be a reason for the drop.
“The fact that there are fewer construction projects also plays a part, even when it comes to expats with technical and higher education degrees. So, due to the situation not being sustainable, they are leaving. Also, many of them are being released,” he added.
According to NCSI, the number of expats in 2015 was 1,866,301. It recovered to 2,051,034 in 2016 and jumped further to 2,095,550 in 2017.
Presently, the number stands at 2,054,458, which is 44.2 per cent of the population of the country.