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Times of Oman - 13.10.2014


Saleh Al Shaibany's article, Is rapid Omanisation driving away the needed expat talent?, published in Times of Oman on October 12, made an excellent read and raised many valid points faced by private companies and expats in Oman now.

I am a huge supporter of Omanisation but with the proviso that appropriate education and subsequent training is put in place but I also believe that companies here should be able to recruit the best person for the job — whatever their nationality.  This is the only way in which that the national population will be encouraged to increase their skills and commitment levels. 
The current labour law that makes it practically impossible to discipline and ultimately dismiss an Omani does not encourage good work ethics amongst the national population which has a direct detrimental effect on business.

I also agree with Saleh's comment that Omanis should have the right to an education but not the right to have a job!  Schools, colleges and universities also have a responsibility to encourage Omanis that having any job is important — not just having a management job.   We regularly have freshers apply for the position of CEO who get bemused and sometimes angry when they are not considered for the position. 

Having to compete in the job market and to potentially start at the bottom of the ladder will reap rewards for the companies, increase Omanisation which is the aim of the Government and in the long run give positive career ladders for the individual in positions that they have the right experience and background for.  

There are many Omanis who have worked hard during their education, started at the lower levels of an organisation and have worked their way up to become excellent managers and directors — all down to their hard work and commitment.  

As GM of a recruitment consultancy we had many expat candidates this summer, who had been offered positions here in Oman, decline the offers after hearing about the two year ban.  In particular I recall an offer for an expat for a very senior specialist position for one of the Islamic banks — a vital position for this bank that could not be filled by an Omani due to the limited skills currently in Islamic banking here.  How can this be helpful for Oman and its future growth and economy.  

Also by not bringing in these types of skills, how can Omanis learn and gain the knowledge and experience necessary to take on the job in the future.  It is vital that for specialist positions, expats are encouraged to come to Oman to pass on their knowledge.  The current regulation really does need to be reviewed by the relevant authorities.   

It is very difficult for an expat to feel secure in their position in Oman now and I see many leaving for other Gulf countries where things are more settled.  This drain of expats from the local workforce will soon have a detrimental effect if it hasn't already.

Another point raised in the article is the difficulty in obtaining labour clearances — particularly for a female clearance which are currently like gold dust!  I know of an Omani Ladies Spa who applied for a labour clearance for a hairdresser as they were expanding only to be told they could have a male labour clearance only!  

Labour clearances need to be issued based on the nature of the post and the skill required.  Many countries around the world operate systems whereby clearances are issued based on their skills shortages e.g. Australia, USA and many European countries.  

The issue of generalizing labour clearances e.g. the number of female clearances or the issuing decision based purely on the number of national/expat ratio in any organization needs to be reviewed as the job market cannot be generalised by occupation.

As for the comment that expats will be required for quite a long time to work alongside Omanis — given the number of nationals of working age, if they were all gainfully employed there would still be insufficient people to fill the number of jobs in the market and whilst many will not take positions that they are capable of doing because they feel the position is not good enough, expats will always be required to undertake those jobs.

The right education, appropriate training and in particular vocational training and a review of the current rules surrounding labour clearances has to be the way forward.  Let Omanis and expats work together to continue to support the growth and development of this wonderful country.
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