Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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.


le fin.    


Thats What I said...

I suspect that the non-Omani drivers driving cars with Ministry number plates and the non-Omani tea boys offering tea in government offices will be looking for new jobs any year soon

Anonymous said...

Omanis in my team are getting paid 4 times more than my expat workers. and they deliver only 10% (on good days) compared to expats.worst part is that there is no way to make them listen.after all,employing them is also synonymous with teaching them a skill.god forbid,if all expats have to leave,the future of their country is at stake.they should come to work thinking not only about the payment at the end of the month,but about learning and honing skills.if you ask me,this double policy of different salaries for different races for the same post is in itself a crime.we are all created alike.then why is there a need to differentiate?

Anonymous said...

An added issue is that some Omanis expect a huge salary and high position too quickly. I had a hard slog as a graduate engineer doing several jobs that many Omanis see as menial task (report writing, inspection work, night shifts and CAD drawings). This attitude has to change as people need to learn that experience comes through gaining experience! Not just a job title and pay packet.

I feel that private firms need to invest more time in linking with University / College students to help develop the talent they want from the start of degrees and clearly define what is required to succeed.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem I have is that my Omanis (and I only have good ones, mostly women ...) are being head hunted constantly... fortunately they are engaged in the business and therefore still loyal to us; but the offers will only get more and more attractive. And in the end I see an awful lot of job hopping which is not actually productive or conducive to career development ... so even the good ones are in danger ...

Zebu said...

Japanese attitude for work:

If one can do it, I can do it
If none can do it, I must do it.

Arab Attitude for work:

Wallahi if one can do it, let him do it
If none can do it, ya-habibi how can I do it :)

Get used them folks...

Karim said...

I am qouting from your post the following sentence.

"move towards a world where jobs are filled by the most suitable candidates"

Does this apply to businesses in the US and France as well? or is it Oman specific?

Anonymous said...

To the last Anon talking about his employees being head-hunted: Why isn't that productive? Sounds perfectly productive to me. That is the beauty of the free market at work.

If you're concerned about them jumping ship, create an environment that encourages them to stay and feel fulfilled (or come back, if they do indeed jump ship), and pay competitive wages.

Beyond that, there's nothing you can do to stop someone from leaving if they still want to.

In America's Silicon Valley, arguably a more innovative place than Oman, frequent job-hopping is a fact of life, and anyone who works at the same place for years is looked at strangely.

-Omani in US

Anonymous said...

Amazing article on Omanisation. Being a businessman, I can totally relate to it. The government is sometimes forcing us for Omanisation of roles where there are no Omanis for that job. And when we go to them for visas, they don't give us any visas saying that we have to try harder to get Omanis. If they allow us visas, we could double our business almost every year and definately recruit many more Omanis as we would need more drivers, accountants, translators, legal advisors etc. Also make it easier to fire non-performing employees so that we don't have a risk of hiring them in the first place.

Omanisation is a good initiative, but making it so rigid and generic is annoying the business community and is definately counter-productive. The worst part is that being an expat businessman, it is very difficult to get your voice heard or suggestions implemented. There is a fear of expats that they are here to takeover Oman and expoilt the Omanis. And if we look at the recent past, I think it was their own ministers and government officials who were looting and plundering the wealth wheras the expats were always there in difficult times with the Omani people.

Hopefully some intelligent decision maker from the Government will read this article and really take Omanisation in the right direction instead of saying "Na'am Saidi" to everything he hears from his superiors.

Anonymous said...

Sohar Aluminium has achieved 70% Omanisation within period of 3 years. This is high tech industry which need qualified staff but has made it and Ia m sure within few years it will reach 90% or more. Can we learn something from this Company ? You will find that it believes its staff are the most important asset and invest in them and reward them accordingly.
Easly avalable foreign workers make many companies here to see Omanisation as unnecessary burden and always find way / excuses to avoid them.
The Ministry of Manpower lack of policy and direction in this regards especially in the past has not helped.

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