Omani graduates waiting years to find a job

Omani graduates waiting years to find a job
3 min read
11 Feb, 2016
Statistics have revealed that Omani graduates wait three-and-a-half years to find a job, and women over four. But the numbers reveal a biased among university leavers for government jobs.
Oman is looking to the private sector - particularly tourism - for job creation [AFP]

Graduates in Oman are waiting on average three-and-a-half years to find a job, according to Muscat's National Centre for Statistics and Information.

The years' long search is worst still for women who need close to five years to find work.

The newspaper revealed that suprisingly, the situation is getting better for gradates with an average waiting time in 2014 six months longer.

Oman's ministry of manpower believes the trend is down to preferences of the job hunters and not a shortage of jobs in the market.

"Many Omanis still prefer to start their careers with the public sector," Talib al-Dhabari, ministry of manpower, told The Times of Oman.

"Work opportunities are available and the ministry is following the communication that takes place between companies and job-seekers."

The ministry of manpower said it is ensuring that companies respond to job-seekers within two weeks of an application, but there is still more work needed to improve the situation.

Local traditions

However, traditions and mindsets are hard to break.

Human resource experts told the local newspaper that many women are reluctant to work in specific jobs, during nights, or away from home.

The state statistics centre also said there is a strong desire among graduates to work for the government.

More then three-quarters of Omani graduates interviewed by the department said they would still prefer to work for the state even if a salary for the same job in the private sector was 50 percent higher.

The centre also found that more than half of young Omanis would transfer to the public sector even if the pay was lower.

There are many factors that make working life in the government preferable than in the profit-making world.

Many Omanis still prefer to start their careers with the public sector.

In ministries, employees often work shorter hours, pay is lower but bonuses are more common, and most importantly a job with the government offers security.

Many see employment in the public sector as a job for life

However, the trend also reflects some shortfalls in higher education institutions in Oman, experts said.

Arabic-language often dominates day-to-day life in government offices, meaning a lack of English skills shouldn't impede progress for graduates.

Graduates often don't pick up the skills private sector employers are looking for at university, and what is learned in the classrooms is often not transferrable to the workplace.

"While young Omanis have obtained an excellent education, quite often the qualifications they have do not match the requirements of the private sector," Tonia Gray, general manager at Competence HR told Times of Oman.

"Fresh graduate Omanis we have hired often left within two years."

Oman is looking to diversify its economy away from oil and shrink the state.

Low oil prices cost Muscat at least $14 billion last year.

This means there will be fewer opportunities for future graduates to work in the public sector.

Entrepreneurship is one hey area that the government is pumping money into.

Muscat has promoted the benefits of graduates owning a businesses, and even provided young Omanis with the money to do so.

So far the idea seems to be catching on, and Omanis are starting the benefits of starting businesses and creating work, rather than relying on the state to provide for them.

This is the vital switch needed in mindsets as Oman prepares for a transition to a country where citizens create their own work as oil runs low.