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في مسابقة الجمعية الإقتصادية العمانية

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هل سيساهم التعمين في تقليص أعداد
الباحثين عن عمل بحلول عام 2020

Will Omanization minimize unemployment by 2020?

فاطمة بنت مرهون الغيثي

Since the emergence of Omanization in 1988, the incontrovertible truth regarding the role of that policy to eliminate unemployment is limited. According to the recent hashtag trend in the social network Twitter #OmanisWithoutJobs that has been activated in the mid-September of 2017 by many Omani job seekers against the current situation of Omanization and unemployment; the sufferings shared in the hashtag show how the current applied policy of Omanization is in a very slow lane until this year.

The aim of Omanization has always be to train the national workforce to be qualified to work in different positions that are mainly occupied by expatriates in the private sector. Although it has been long since the policy has applied, yet there is insignificant progress in pushing down unemployment. According to tradingeconomics.com, the chart of Oman Unemployment Rate shows that the rate has started to increase in 2015 as government were freezing jobs and as huge number of graduates were entering the market, allowing it to increase the year after to 17.5 percent.

This unexplained reality made normal people to wonder the efficiency of Omanization. The truth that many are unaware of is that companies current practice of Omanization revolve mostly about achieving the proclaimed percentages in their sector regardless the type of jobs.  Consequently, most of the Omanization rate filled in lower level jobs in which there is no need for skills, qualifications and even experiences. So there is a quantitative specification, but there are no clear indication of the qualitative part which include the type of jobs.

In fact the bottom level jobs are not the only issue. The big problem is the long wait that graduates prepare themselves unwillingly for the job search journey. The statistics posted by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) depict that it has been estimated that on average graduates spend at least three to four years seeking for a job. Moreover, a particular study by the Ministry of Higher Education for graduates has showed that in general only 47 percent of Omani graduates manage to access the labor market and get a job after graduation. This mean more than 50 percent of the graduates are left jobless. Correspondingly, this huge percent of unoccupied graduates in one way or another would certainly affect the efficiency representation of Oman’s labor market as it is reflected in the Global Competitiveness Index (2016-2017) where findings show that Oman has been ranked 82 globally in term of the labor market efficiency.

The session conducted in January by Shura Council discussed the issue of Omanization with the minister of manpower, Al Bakri. According to albawaba.com, Al Bakri addressed that Omanization has reached 14 percent so far in the private sector. The challenge of Omanis in senior positions was mentioned by the minister in which he addressed a new labour law that differs from the current to be applied in the near future. Announcing that change in this year is a late sign of unplanned vision of 2020 of the 9th Five-Year Development Plan. However, it is still possible to make remarkable results that would mitigate the real struggle within two years.

The new law of Omanization would concern mainly on the middle layer of job pyramid for jobs like middle management. So there would be diversified percentages from the bottom to the top of the career ladder as Oman urgently need to increase the competitive ability of nationals to be qualified for high positions.  This career planning for national employees to reach higher level jobs will empower them to perform well locally and to compete internationally.

However, the new plan has missed to cover the destiny of the high number of jobseekers. Yes it is challenging to solve all that in a short period, but even heading to small plans and initiatives could be so effective. That referred hashtag for example must not be neglected as it acted like a crowdsourcing platform for sharing reasonable actions that could improve and develop the policy. The benefit of social media crowdsourcing is overwhelming and this could be a hint for all career platforms to add the crowdsourcing feature in their services.

In this situation to make steady progress, considerable endeavors must be adopted by big companies and the government. Big companies have to be encouraged to approach different plans as their corporate social responsibility of things that have sustainable impact. One of the possible things is to prepare virtual training. As the main problem that graduates face is the lack of experience and competency, companies can help by offering free certified online training frequently in different areas to help graduates enhance their skills and experiences that would eventually strengthen their resumes.

Another thing is to build coworking spaces in different regions of Oman. The aim of those spaces is to offer inspirational environment and continuous guidance for free in entrepreneurship for young job seekers who are interested to have businesses. According to NCSI, statistics show comparison of the number of SMEs  in the first three months period of (2016-2017) in which it shows a decline number of SMEs by 31.2 percent this year. Therefore, this initiative would help to encourage the creation of large number of SMEs that would prosper the private sector and create other job opportunities. It is good to note that the success of increasing SMEs is highly depending on the government efforts to facilitate and ease the procedures.  According to the Executive Opinion Survey of the World Economic Forum it has shown that the top three problematic factors for doing business in Oman are linked to the government which are as follows: Restrictive labor regulations, Inadequately educated workforce and Inefficient government bureaucracy.

In addition to government role to ease the regulations, it is also required to allow the creation of new jobs that enhance the productivity and overall performance of organizations. For instance, in school community there could be new additions for Extracurricular Activities Specialist in each activity, instead of the multi-positions and pressures each employee has. This would help to generate load of advantages that positively impact the productivity gains of all parties. In fact without limitation to any organization, each community can grow itself better as it involve new enriching inputs that looks forward for a positive change.

The above suggestions are not going to eliminate the problem but would help to bridge the gap of unemployment a bit as they are easy to implement. Not to forget the necessity to enable Omanis in all areas of private sector. It is good to realize that replacing expats by Omanis blindly is not a solution if the national workforce is not qualified for the jobs. Therefore it is challenging to reach that ultimate goal of training Omanis to occupy large positions. The future would be so uncertain and mysterious if no movements would be taken soon. Authorities should cooperate and realize that the economy is no longer able to incur more jobless; so it should attempt to demystify the nightmare of unemployment and the current stressful situation. In the end, the question remains: what choice would be taken now to guarantee a pleasing and satisfying life for all Omanis!