By Marcin Kubarek
Marcin Kubarek, knowledge and content manager at Fragomen, shares his views on the effects of Oman's extension of its expat recruitment ban across various industries
What does it signify?
Extending the suspension on recruitment of foreign nationals across various industry sectors signifies that the Omani government remains very keen on addressing the issue of a high unemployment rate among its citizens, particularly young people. Unemployment among Omani youth aged between 15-24 reached 48.7 percent in 2017, which is a major concern.
Will it help resolve the problem?
Development of the country’s human resources is a shared responsibility of the government and the private sector, and it requires that foreign companies in Oman not only recruit the local workforce but also focus on providing various training programmes.
On the other hand, the government must respond to any existing loopholes in the country’s education programme and promote more skill-based education that meets the demand of the labour market. It is not an effortless or quick process, but some regulatory changes indicate that the government will continue to stress the importance of skills development rather than quantitative Omanisation.
These efforts have recently contributed to the employment of a large portion of some 25,000 Omani citizens the government plans to recruit in the coming months.
Is this a temporary solution?
There are already signals suggesting that the ministry will continue extending the suspension in its drive to promote the employment of Omani citizens over foreign nationals.
The labour market continues to be monitored and the selection of sectors that are subject to suspension is done based on the qualifications of Omani jobseekers who are ready to take up employment, and therefore we can expect some modifications to be made to the list of affected professions in the future.
What else will the ministry do?
While the suspension has had a serious impact on foreign companies deploying foreign nationals on permanent contracts, the ministry is currently working on amending its labour regulations to address increasing demand for temporary work permits and for the ease of mobility of workers between entities.
And as it is with any type of restriction, it may seem to hamper foreign investment in the country, but on the other hand, the growing flexibility for short-term employees will continue to attract business.