Jobs ... but no takers?
MUSCAT: Unemployment rate in Oman decreased to 5-6 per cent in 2007 from nearly 20 per cent five years ago, a top government official said yesterday.
Vigorous policies and procedures pursued by the Ministry of Manpower, under the wise leadership of His Majesty the Sultan, to cut down the rate of unemployment by increasing Omanisation percentage and upgrading training levels has paid results, Dr Younis bin Khalfan Al Akhzami, director-general of planning and development, Ministry of Manpower, told Times of Oman.
Well, but not quite. When you read on, we find that's just an estimate, based on some huge guesses on critical info due to them still not completing a big-brother database on all Omanis, their employment status and a CV (which seems a Herculean task anyhow if you ask me, with 80,000 high school grads a year coming onto the job market). I still seem to come across a lot of those 5% crowd I guess, especially men between 18-35 with few formal skills and who who are unmarried (because they can’t afford the dowry). I just don’t believe 5%. Maybe by not counting women, and assuming most of those in the Wadis are ‘employed’ simply because they have nothing else to do but go fishing or tend dates. He continued..
“Since then we have progressed well in that direction but we need more cooperation from all the ministries to complete the database. We also need to include some of the private sector activities that include agriculture, fisheries which employ a lot of Omanis,” Dr Younis said. This data has to be used by other ministries as a focal point to employ Omanis in their ministries. The register is an indicator and reference as it includes names, level of studies, any experience of the candidates and has any kind of information that will help in employing the Omanis.
Speaking about challenges in employment of Omanis, Younis pointed out that rate of unemployment varies as the Ministry of Manpower believes that the people employed in the agriculture and the fisheries sector and other sectors are not taken into account as there is no record of them yet. “Around five years ago, young Omanis were searching for jobs and they were not getting any, but now we are looking for skilled Omanis to fill up certain jobs in certain sectors and there is a shortage because most of them are already employed,” Dr Younis stated. “There is also a problem of skilled Omanis as locals have to be trained before they are employed in any sector,” he said. “Our ministry is seeking people who can be employed in some of the sectors like the construction sector but we don’t have enough skilled Omanis,” he added.
As to the last comment, he must be kidding. No Omani’s working in construction because of a skills shortage? What planet is this guy on? I know of many training courses organized and paid for by the Ministries, where the students show up, but not to be trained! They are there for the salary they get while on the course, because they can't get a job. Carpentry, for example. There have been countless carpentry courses run for Omani, but how many Omani carpenters do you know? None. Because (a)the pay is low, and there is no national scheme for apprentices or vocational qualifications (or requirements for those vocational qualifications anyhow), and (b)employers prefer to get carpenters from Pakistan or India who cost a lot less and can be made to work 6 days a week (or more), 12 hrs a day.
Also, employers are hesitant to employ an Omani because they are more expensive, can’t be fired, leave easily once trained, and, lets face it, don’t generally work as hard as other potential workers. I know that’s a huge generalization, and that there are many Omani’s working hard and with a real work ethic. But I'm not convinced that's true for the majority, unfortunately.