What is Omanization and is it working?

March 28, 2017 | 10:43 PM
By Syed Haitham Hasan / haitham@timesofoman.com

The number of openings for Omanis has risen dramatically in the past two years. Photo-File


Muscat: More than 80 per cent of all job vacancies currently posted in Oman are for Omanis only, according to recruitment agencies, as nationals begin to reap the fruits of a government Omanisation drive.

Data from past two years shows that nationals are being hunted by recruiters as companies seek to hit targets set by the government regarding Omani staff.

Dr. Ali bin Mas’oud Al Sunaidi, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said recently he expects a 35 per cent Omanisation rate in most companies, and warned that companies that do not meet the target will “not find a friend in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.”

Most employers seem to have heeded the message, according to recruiters, with an upsurge in jobs and junior management roles for Omanis.

A recent freeze on government jobs in Oman has also resulted in Omanis looking for work in the private sector, and higher quality Omani graduates are also driving the new hiring boom, according to the experts.

“The number of openings for Omanis has risen dramatically in the past two years. Before that we had nearly 50-50 available vacancies for both Omanis and expats but now it has changed. We can say the percentage of Omanis required by companies is 80 per cent of the total vacancies,”

Prabhu Shankar, Assistant General Manager at MENA HR solutions said.

“I think Omanis have done very well recently at colleges and therefore more companies are willing to hire them. We have seen a rise in job positions for nationals from nearly equal division two years ago to around 70 per cent applications only for Omanis. I think both Omanisation and quality of graduates have a role to play in this,” Farhat Shaikh from Global Elite HR solutions and services said.

According to recruitment experts, the major reason for the rise in jobs for Omanis is the strict Omanisation quota for companies to adhere to. Strict visa requirements for expats are also aiding the rise of Omanis in companies.

“The tough visa clearance procedures as well as strict Omanisation policies have all helped this. Even the economic slowdown has made companies more aware of the Omanisation percentage.

“Expat jobs through us are limited to experienced individuals that have worked in the given industry for around 10 years. I have barely seen a job that requires zero to two years experienced open to expats,” he added.

The Omanisation programme has been operational since 1988 and aims to replace expatriate workers with skilled Omani nationals. Most government organisations as well as oil and gas sector companies have registered high Omanisation percentages of up to 90 per cent, however, sectors such as construction still lag behind with single digit rates, according to officials.

According to Faiz Ali Al Maskari, CEO at Ajyal HR, an overwhelming percentage of job opportunities that come through HR agencies is for Omanis.

“Approximately 80-90 per cent of jobs posted through us are for Omanis. Earlier it used to be nearly equal but since the economic slowdown there has been more Omanisation quota adherence and higher quality graduates are passing out from the universities in Oman to make it easier for companies to hire them,” he said.

The Omanisation target for the engineering sector is set at 50 per cent, with targets of 70 per cent for technicians and 80 per cent in the category of skilled workers.

In the oil and gas sector, the Omanisation level is 90 per cent for production and operation companies and 82 per cent for direct service companies.

For the accounting field, the Omanisation target is 29 per cent for managers, 55 per cent for specialists, and 66 per cent for technicians. For clerical positions the Omanisation level is 100 per cent.

In the industrial sector, the Omanisation target is set at 35 per cent. For banking, the target is 90 per cent, and for financing and insurance the new targets are set at 45 per cent.

Speaking at an Oman Industry Day event, Dr. Al Sunaidy, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, highlighted the role that expats play in the country’s economy but argued that companies failing to maintain a minimum percentage of Omanisation were not fulfilling their social responsibilities.

“I am aware of the contributions made by the expat doctors and engineers to develop the country. We know that we need them. However, when we talk about jobs that can be done by Omanis but are instead given to expats, it is a problem. Why can’t we give the job to an Omani who has the expertise to do it well? If they can’t have 35 per cent Omanisation rate, they will not find a friend in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,” he stressed.

Dr. Al Sunaidy added that companies that have achieved or excelled beyond this minimum rate of Omanisation must be appreciated through incentives. He called upon the decision makers to discuss such proposals with the ministry.

“A lot of foreign owned companies are successful in attaining the Omanisation rate while companies in Oman are unable to do so. I believe it is the responsibility of the top managements to take care of their social responsibility,” he said.


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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