Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some action for the job seeking graduates?

Nice story in todays outstanding Times of Oman and all the other papers on HM's chairing of a cabinet meeting at... Bait Al Barka, scene of ammassed unemployed teaching graduates. (see previous post)

It can't be coincidence that the lead item in the Oman News Agency Press release is:
On the domestic front His Majesty the Sultan reviewed the Sultanate’s educational policies and relations between human resources and available job opportunities. His Majesty the Sultan directed the government to evaluate these policies and set prospective aims according to a clear and comprehensive vision.

As with many news articles in Oman, the main 'story' is not what's actually printed but what isn't, and its relationship to what the papers think they can print. Why else would that one item make the lead with explicit mention of Education vacancies?

There have been some comments on my earlier post pointing out that some of the graduates have been doing sweet fcuk all for the past several years other than navel gazing, waiting for the Government to employ them and then bitching about how tough a deal they got. Readers: I totally agree. They should be getting their fingers out of their butts and into some work: even if that's a stint of burger flipping (obviously washing their hands first). I was mainly reporting on the sit-in happening at all, not the justness of their cause.

Also note that the offical term for such lay-abouts in general in Oman is not 'unemployed' but 'job seekers'. Such is the importance of semantics to the public debate in the Sultanate.

Its also very difficult to know in general what the actual unemployment rate of Oman is. An oft quoted semi-offical number is 15%, apparently from a 2004 estimate. Many other sources simply state 'Unemployment Rate: NA%', which is at least more accurate. A recent Government official put it at 5-6% as recently posted, but I don't think anyone who isn't high on crack actually considers this to bear any connection to reality. There is also no clarity on whether its men only (a common trick to get the numbers down), or just officially registered 'job seekers', or includes housewives who would take a job.

And it certainly doesn't count the vast swathes of underemployment - the morose and useless 'customer assistance' Omani girls wandering around Centerpoint, the PROs [public relations officers or gophers], the many taxi drivers or fishermen or farmers, all eeking out a subsistence income.

But with at least 80,000 high school graduates hitting the job market every year, its hard to believe the rate is going down...


  1. So did HM raise this because of what he saw on his return from holiday, or what he read in your blog???

  2. Anon,

    Ha ha. Funny you should mention that, because I also got a hit from Libya recently...

    But its an interesting thought more generally - does HM surf the net? And if so, does he have to put up with the Omantel filters too? Perhaps the news should start with: 'And today, His Majesty updated his facebook profile, and accepted as a friend the Vice President of Uzbekistan, following his request....'

    Oh, and please chose a nickname!


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