MAKING IT WORK

Oman 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Abdullah bin Nasser Abdullah, Minister of Manpower (MoM), on its wide range of services for employees and companies, developing vocational education, and challenges in the local labor market.

HE Abdullah bin Nasser Abdullah
BIOGRAPHY
HE Abdullah bin Nasser Abdullah was born in 1965 and received a BA in arts from Lebanon and a MA in management systems from the UK. He was first appointed Director General of Regional Municipalities and the Environment in 1992, before taking the same position but moving from the Interior Region to the Al Batinah North region in 1996. In 1997, he became the Director General of Technical Affairs before moving to Water Resources Affairs in 2001. He later became the Undersecretary for Water Resources Affairs in the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources in 2003 and then took over his appointed position as the Minister of Manpower in 2008.

How does MoM work to support both companies and workers?

MoM offers a wide range of services, including proposing and implementing the general manpower policy in line with Oman's economic and social objectives concerned with preparing the drafts of laws and systems relating to the regulation of the labor market and the vocational training sector, the issuance of implementing decisions and regulations, protecting the national workforce, working toward developing skills and capabilities, and building an integrated system for labor market information. It is also concerned with applying, following up, and monitoring the implementation of labor law and regulations. It works hard to implement the Royal Directives to employ the national labor force in private establishments. The ministry has an initiative to adopt any method that enhances its role to link national job seekers with employment opportunities available in the private sector. The ministry works in coordination with the Public Authority for the Manpower Register to streamline the procedures and develop work at the directorates of labor in the various governorates and regions and to avail required technical support to mainstream computer use by all directorates. The “job opportunities bank" was established to provide information on job opportunities at private establishments. The ministry has also provided technical and administrative support to enable companies and establishments to meet candidates for employment or training before signing contracts. It has dozens of e-services for establishments, employers, and job seekers to ensure direct communication. The ministry also works in coordination with Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) and the private sector to develop the work of Omanization sector committees.

How does MoM efficiently work with the technological and vocational education sector to fulfill labor market requirements?

The ministry works toward implementing government policies and programs meant to develop vocational education in the Sultanate, with the aim of preparing general diploma holders. The ministry continues the implementation of “employment-linked training" programs, which provide job seeker trainees with guaranteed employment opportunities after receiving applied training at privately accredited training institutions, and take up vacant posts at private-sector establishments. Employment-linked training is considered one of most important programs based on scientific planning and coordination between the MoM and the private sector. The continuation of such programs will provide job seekers with more opportunities to achieve the full employment of the national labor force.

What is your outlook for the ministry over the next 12 months?

Guided by Royal Directives and scientific planning, the ministry continues its active contribution to ensuring the sustainable growth of the national economy. It also recognizes challenges in the labor market in the Sultanate and works to overcome them through a daily follow-up method and scientific planning thanks to its belief that the labor market must be balanced realistically and that its challenges can be encountered positively. The labor market is an inseparable part of macroeconomics and the challenges facing the national economy affect the labor market. Finding employment opportunities for national job seekers and the stability of nationals in their jobs is one of the priorities of the ministry. Much has been achieved in this area, as the number of nationals employed in the private sector exceeded 240,000 men and women by the end of 2016. Among the challenges is that Omani citizens prefer to work in public institutions, which increases the number of job seekers. The ministry works to implement awareness campaigns to encourage citizens to set up their own businesses, and to highlight the advantages of working in private establishments. Despite the implementation of the Omanization programs and plans, private sector projects employed more than 1.8 million expatriate workers by the end of 2016, which poses another challenge. The Omanization percentage in private productive and service establishments has not exceeded 25% in spite of the ministry's efforts.