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Times of Oman 05.05.2015

Muscat: "We at the Majlis Al Shura are unanimously supporting the Omanisation move at the top positions in the private sector. We have understood that there is a resistance from the expatriate-dominated managers to hire Omanis in their companies." 

These were  the words of Tawfiq Al Lawati, a Shura member, to Times of Oman yesterday after day two of talks with the Minister of Manpower. At the meeting, the Majlis Al Shura unanimously urged the ministry to go ahead with the Omanisation of the top managerial posts in the private sector.

But outside the Majlis, the plan has received less enthusiastic support with an Omani trade union leader, an Omani investor, and an Omani economic expert saying the move should be carried out cautiously. 

That message has been echoed by a leading expat HR professional.

"Most of the companies are having expatriates at the top level for decades," Tawfiq Al Lawati said. 


"Why do the expatriate managers think that top level posts reserved only for them forever? It is surprising to see that companies who are having expatriates at the top levels for the last two or three decades have failed to find even a single Omani CEO. How can they justify or explain this?"

On Monday, citing statistics, Shura members requested the Ministry of Manpower to study the reasons on why Omanis are leaving private sector jobs.

Top five positions
"
Most of the expatriate managers will avoid hiring smart Omanis who are fit to grow in their career. The expatriate managers will hire only Omanis who will never be a threat to their positions. A plan should be sought from companies now itself stating that top five positions in Oman will be reserved only for Omanis from 2020," the Shura member added.

Meanwhile, in Monday's meeting, Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, assured Shura that the government is giving prominence in offering jobs to Omanis.

The minister revealed that the number of job seekers registered at the Public Authority of Manpower is around 142,000 but those who are active and do follow ups are around only 62,000, mostly women. 

Meanwhile, responding to the Shura proposal, a trade union leader said that the private sector should carry out the proposal cautiously.

"We need to focus on the vehicle that we will use to make Omanis reach the top managerial positions. It should be built on talents, skills and experience. It should not be on the basis of the time. In the ministry, after certain period, a promotion is guaranteed. But the private sector should not follow this. Just for the sake of nationalisation, if you use wrong tools, then we will end up as a disaster," said Saud Salmi, chairman of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) trade union and chairman of oil and gas sector, trade union.

"You have to hire locals. But should also not forget that a process of training Omanis and making them capable of going up in the ranks should also be there," Saud added.

Meanwhile, an Omani investor said that the proposal cannot be implemented immediately.

"It needs time. We have to prepare a plan, set a time frame and move ahead," chairman of Anvwar Asian Investment Group, said.

Nader Al Rawahy, account business development leader and advisory head of government and private sector at EY Oman, said that Omanis should be given a chance to take up top level positions if they have experience.

Foreign investment
However, Nader also added that if the Sultanate is going to issue an order in one day that all managerial and leadership positions have to be filled by Omanis, it could prove detrimental to Oman's foreign investment and economy.

"It will affect foreign direct investment. It will affect the economy," he added.

Meanwhile, Tonia Gray, general manager at Competence HR, said that it is important for Oman to protect its nationals in terms of employment, but, this needs to be undertaken in a measured and logical way and to support the growth and development of business.

"In my opinion, it is vital that top management positions are filled with individuals who have the appropriate qualification, skills and experience to undertake the role effectively, otherwise there will be a detrimental effect on the business and ultimately the economy. I am sure there are already individuals who can meet the necessary requirements and this should be considered," Tonia said.

"To place inexperienced individuals without the right skills in top management and without the necessary competence is very risky for Oman's future. To have a 'blanket approach' to this without the necessary development in place is a very risky strategy," Tonia added.
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