Omanisation – the flawed policy
All of those who work in Muscat know that one of the biggest challenges facing any business is Omanisation. Whilst the government is right to want as many Omanis to get to work as possible (and to be there on time, at the same time, clogging up the roads – a debate for another blog) the policy is flawed.
It is a simple matter of maths. If a business wants to grow, it might work out that it needs 100 new people, and with an Omanisation requirement of 90%, 90 Omanis would be employed.
But perhaps that business, if it were allowed to employ people with the precise skills it wanted, could create 200 jobs, because it could expand better and quicker. If that business agreed that 50% of them would be Omani, it would actually create jobs for 100 Omanis - more than the previous example.
Business does not grow because it is told to do so by governments. It grows because it finds opportunity, and it needs people to execute its plans. And it must have the right people.
Here we find the other big issue. Those Omanis who have the right skills and are in the right jobs are now in big demand. Omanisation means that all businesses need their quota of Omanis, and some of these must be in management positions. The best Omani performers find that headhunters come knocking at their door. And quite right – the cream will rise to the top.
The concern is that some may be over-promoted for the sake of statistics. This can undermine other corporate goals, and could create tensions with other workers.
Whatever nationality we are, we know we have certain inherent strengths and weaknesses. So do Omanis. It is time to be realistic. The onsite labour market will always be dominated by expats largely from the Indian subcontinent. Trying to change this by putting round pegs in square holes will not work.
So come on, Ministries and all, we know that 63% of Omanis are under the age of 30 (National Geographic figures from July 2011) and that many of these citizens need jobs now and in the near future. Let’s look again at Omanisation, and get private business to lead the way by informing the government of its needs to expand in the best way. Forget the strict percentages, and move towards a world where jobs are filled by the most suitable candidates.
And all employees, from whatever nationality, need to be prepared to work, with a positive attitude to do their best. And their best should be for both their company and the country.