Muscat: Omanisation is becoming a Catch-22 situation for the private sector with the government setting percentages for the hiring of nationals in different sectors. Young jobseekers, however, are shunning opportunities in the private sector.
“The Omanisation targets are unrealistic for different reasons,” a senior official with a private sector money exchange told Gulf News on the condition of anonymity.
He said that money exchanges have been asked by the Central Bank to ensure that their Omani workforce is not less than 60 per cent from this year. “We and other exchange houses have tried their best to recruit Omani staff but they are not available,” he said.
He pointed out that working in shifts, extended hours and the fewer number of public holidays are some of the reasons Omani citizens shun private sector jobs and prefer employment with the government sector.
Another individual working as a manager in the private sector said, requesting anonymity: “We have tried recruiting Omani staff through newspaper advertisements, placement agencies and training institutes but it is difficult to get them to accept the job at the terms and condition of employers.”
After public protests demanding jobs last year, the country’s leader Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed, issued directives mandating the creation of 50,000 jobs. At the same time, he announced unemployment allowances, which led to an unusually high number of Omanis leaving private sector jobs.
“We did have some dropouts among Omani staff members,” A.V. Ananth, regional director with Lulu Hypermarket in Oman, told Gulf News.
However, he also pointed out that the problem of finding Omani employees was probably only limited to the capital. “In Muscat there’s a problem of getting national workforce but in the interiors and smaller towns, people are taking up jobs with us,” said Ananth, who launched UAE-based Emke group’s operations in Oman a decade ago.
He pointed out that the problem of young jobseekers preferring employment with the government sector was not limited to Oman. “It is a regional as well as worldwide problem,” he said.
The government, however, is concerned at the apathy displayed by young nationals towards employment opportunities in the private sector.
According to a statement issued by the council of ministers, there was reluctance on the part of young Omanis to work in the private sector. “They instead prefer employment in the government sector,” the statement noted. It further stated that recruitment of a national workforce was a big challenge for the country, especially in light of the marked preference given by jobseekers for government jobs.
The statement noted that the reluctance of the national workforce to take up private sector employment, companies were forced to depend on expatriate employees. “That has had impact on the march of comprehensive development.”
The government urged the youth of the country to accept work in all sectors, whether public or private. “The government is exerting efforts in creating ‘ideal conditions’ for employment in these sectors,” the statement said.
The ministers noted that the private sector was a key partner in the country’s comprehensive development. “We count on private sector to strengthen its role to accommodate the national cadres, qualify them and get them involved in steering development,” the statement concluded.
In the past few months, the Manpower Ministry has conducted recruitment sessions for Omani nationals in the private sector but the result has been appalling with very few responding to interview calls and less than five per cent taking up job opportunities.
The government is keen to see that young job aspirants take up challenges and play a key role in the private sector’s contribution in the progress of the country. For that, young Omanis will have to stop shunning employment opportunities in the private sector.
Caption: Young Omanis being interviewed at the Manpower Ministry to take up employment opportunities in the private sector.