In a bid to increase job opportunities for Omani nationals and reduce the country’s high unemployment rate, Oman’s Ministry of Manpower announced on May 27 that the country is extending the ban on hiring expatriates by another six months, the National reported.
The six-month ban was put in place on Jan. 28, 2018 against the hiring of expatriates in 10 industries, including media, information technology, marketing and sales, insurance, construction, engineering, accounting and finance, technicians, administration, HR and aviation. It affected about 87 jobs.
According to the ministry, the ban does not apply to the replacement of existing foreign employees in the private sector. The aim of the extended freeze against hiring expatriates is to give “private companies more time to create vacancies for Omanis who are out of work,” the ministry said, according to the report. The extension will come into effect from July 1, 2018.
Expats currently make up more than 70 per cent of workers in Oman’s private sector. About 1.8 million foreigners work in various professions in the country.
Omanis make up more than 90 per cent of employees in the civil service, as per government figures.
Last October, the Oman government had promised to begin creation of 25,000 new jobs from December, of which 60 per cent were to be in the public sector. It promised incentives to the private sector companies to hire nationals instead of expatriates.
“It makes sense that the government is pushing for a bigger percentage of Omanization in the private sector. Most of these jobs currently occupied by expatriates can be taken by Omanis. The nationals are willing to take up these jobs but the private sector must take the initiatives,” Salim Al Rawahi, a manpower consultant, was quoted as saying by the National.
Some job experts say that companies may be hesitating to take on more Omanis. “It is true that the private companies are not serious in the implementation of the Omanization process. This is actually working against the efforts of the Ministry of Manpower to recruit more Omanis in the private sector. It is time directors of private companies complement the government’s efforts in the drive to replace expatriates,” the publication quoted Harith Al Maimani, another manpower consultant, as saying.
Just this month, the Ministry of Manpower issued a warning that companies may losing work permits for their foreign staff if they fail to meet the Omanization targets, Gulf Business reported. This news came after the ministry penalized 161 companies for hiring more than 40 foreign workers each, despite the ban.
“In case of non-compliance with the Omanization rate prescribed and determined by at least 10 percent, the Ministry will take the necessary legal action,” the ministry said in a statement at that time.