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Times of Oman 18 Feb 2016

Boost private sector job benefits to attract Omani youth: Panel

Private sector needs to make itself more attractive to Omanis, says Shura Council Youth Committee Head

ONA
MUSCAT: Benefits for Omani nationals working in the private sector need to be increased so that more Omanis could be employed in higher-level managerial roles, the Head of the Youth Committee of the Shura Council said.

The Committee is currently studying ways to improve Omanisation in the private sector and, in particular,in higher-level jobs.

“Currently, the number of Omanis working in supervisory roles in the private sector is too low. The Omanisation rate among workers with higher degrees is only about 12 per cent”, said Mohammed Al Busaidi, Head of the Committee.

He added that many graduates in the coming years will have advanced degrees, so a strategy to assure their proper employment is urgently needed.

“That’s why we have to look at which jobs are suitable for them and what skills they need to handle these types of jobs,” he said.

Al Busaidi added that since the government sector offers more benefits for Omanis than the private sector, the private sector needs to make itself more attractive to Omanis.

“We need to increase the benefits for Omanis in higher positions in order to encourage them to take up such jobs”, he said.

Last month, the Times of Oman reported that, based on a job market survey carried out by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), more than half of Omani youths working in the private sector would shift to the government sector, even if the salary was lower.

Earlier this month, it became clear that this preference leads to long waiting times: half of all young Omani job-seekers needed three and a half years to find a job, according to data provided by the NCSI.

Of note, Al Busaidi said it is important to reach equality in retirement benefits for Omanis in the private and public sectors.

Commenting on the question of whether the private sector will hire more expats, instead of Omanis, once such benefits have been improved, Al Busaidi told the Times of Oman that “this will not be a big issue” as extra benefits for Omanis “will not incur many costs for the sector”.

However, companies are currently hesitant to hire nationals.

Tonia Gray, General Manager of Competence HR, told the

That companies find it dif- ficult to employ nationals, given the higher pay rates offered to nationals verses expats. She said that SMEs, in particular, struggle to balance the requirement to Omanise due to monthly salary costs.

“I think that equalisation of pay will not happen and, therefore, a lower paid, already experienced individual may be more attractive to companies”, she said.

Instead, Gray thinks training is much more useful than increasing benefits.

“Personal development plans need to be implemented to ensure that the skills required to effectively undertake supervisory positions are in place for nationals and that they are given the opportunity to learn and practice these skills”, she added

Gray also warns companies of the risk of failing to properly train their higher-level staff.

Further, it is important for any company to ensure that those individuals they have in high-level positions are competent to undertake their role, as failings in the mid-level of a company can have enormous ramifications. “Jumping straight into a senior position without having experience could be detrimental to the growth of the individual and, ultimately, the company”, she warned.

Al Busaidi agrees that proper training of Omani nationals is important.

“Young Omanis need more training in order to succeed in these kind of jobs. Providing onthe-job training to Omani graduates is essential. In this way, more Omanis can be employed, while retaining expatriate workers who are deemed essential”, he said.

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