Oman’s decision to continue the ban on recruiting expatriates for another six months has caused worries regarding the ability to fill roles in main sectors.
Assistant manager for business development at MENA HR Solutions, Nasser Al Maqbali said to the Arabian Business, “Expats are important to our country’s growth, especially in newer sectors such as renewable energy where we cannot get qualified employees.”
He also said, “We require help from outside the country; we need to exchange experience.” Between November and January, the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) forced a series of six-month bans on the recruiting of foreigners in several industries affecting 95 types of jobs.
The decision to continue those recruitment ends by another six months was reported on May 27, in a tender to provide more job chances for Omani nationals.
The ministry stated that the ban does not continue to the replacement of existing foreign employees in the private sector. The recruitment ban is the recent in a series of initiatives by the Omani government to minimize high unemployment, which increased to 16.9 percent in 2017 on the back of low oil prices and lower revenues.
Previous October the government announced that it would start generating 25,000 new jobs from December, with 60 percent of those jobs being created in the public sector, plus a drive to employ nationals in the private sector.
However Al Maqbali mentioned that this has prompted concern from some clients regarding filling roles. He said, “Clients are coming to us and they are finding it very difficult [to hire]. And there are times when we can’t do anything for them. We’ve had many calls, many enquiries but it’s difficult for everybody.”
Managing director at Mackenzie Jones Middle East, based in Dubai, David Mackenzie, also mentioned the recruitment ban was creating problems in few sectors.
He stated, “As an example, there is a field within HR called compensation and benefits, which is quite a technical role that Omanis have never been trained to do. We’re trying to fill two roles at the moment and we just can’t find anyone.”
He even said, that banning expats in the sectors where nationals do not have experience was not an ideal solution. He mentioned, “It’s not fair on the national who will fail and it doesn’t work for the company itself because it won’t make a profit.”
Mackenzie did state that training initiatives reported previous year to encourage employment were likely to have a positive impact.
He said, “The Omani government is forward thinking in this regard. They’ve always used expats to help develop their local talent and have been very successful at doing that.”
He also stated that this applied to female employment. “The Omanis have done it very quietly without making a big fuss, but they are pushing women into senior roles and that is to be applauded.”
Omanisation in the private sector rised to 12.1 per cent in 2017, from 11.4 per cent in 2015, as per MoM data.
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