Muscat: More than 64,000 jobs have been created for Omanis in the private sector, one year since the visa ban issued by the Ministry of Manpower came into force at the end of January 2018.
The Ministry of Manpower and the Public Authority for Manpower Register (PAMR) said that 64,386 citizens were recruited by the private sector companies and establishments and 4,125 citizens in the public sector during the past 12 months till the end of December, 2018.
According to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information, a total of 60,807 expats left the labour force in Oman between November 2018 and December 2017, parallel to the hiring of Omanis in the private sector.
Overall, there has been a 3.6 per cent drop in expat worker numbers between the end of November 2018, when 1,734,882 expat workers were present in the Sultanate, and December 2017, when 1,795,689 workers were around, leading to a decrease of 60,807 workers over that period.
The highest number of expat workers is employed in the principal and auxiliary engineering occupations (771,335) and the service sector (461,030).
However, Shashwar Al Balushi, head of Oman’s Labour Labs under the Tanfeedh programme for economic diversification, said there needed to be a three-point plan for companies to hire more Omanis.
“The first thing that must be done should be for the economy to continue to expand,” he said, speaking to Times of Oman.
“If the economy continues to expand, then there will be more jobs for young Omanis who are coming through the system, and there will be enough jobs for them. Secondly, any Omani that is willing to work in the private sector must be welcomed to work in the sector, no matter what job he/she is willing to do. If he/she wants to be an engineer, then let him/her be an engineer, if he/she wants to be a doctor, a driver, a tour guide, whatever that Omani is willing to do, let him/her do it,” said Al Balushi
“There should therefore be an investigation into the jobs Omanis like doing or are willing to do in the private sector,” added Al Balushi. “There needs to be more hiring of Omanis across the service sectors, banking sector, healthcare sectors, and all the sectors where expansion is taking place. There also needs to be more expansion of businesses in a manner that they are sustainable for the future. Thirdly, private companies need to be motivated to hire more locals. There needs to be a smoother process for opening new businesses and encouraging local and foreign investments.”
Al Balushi added that the Tanfeedh Labour Labs were working with the Ministry of Manpower to also ensure the construction industry was better prepared to hire more Omanis.
“Currently, we are working on a plan with the Ministry of Manpower to make it easier to hire more Omanis in the construction sector, and that will be out in 2019,” he explained. “This will ensure that proper procedures are followed, there is no illegal hiring, and also expand the construction sector.”
In an attempt to meet its Omanisation goals and provide more employment to the local population, an initial six-month ban on expat hiring was placed by the Ministry of Manpower on January 28, prohibiting companies from signing up foreign workers across 87 job roles, including IT, media, air traffic, engineering, accounting and finance, tech, insurance, marketing and sales, admin and HR.
The ban was then extended for a further six months in July 2018, and was expanded across more sectors, including sales and procurement, construction, cleaning and workshop sectors.