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The biggest headache for private businesses



Special to Times of Oman

Headhunting — is this becoming the biggest headache for private businesses with too few skilled Omanis on the market and with Omanisation targets to hit?

There are many headaches faced by all businesses today related to employment and this has to be one of those at the top — although I wouldn't limit this to identifying suitable candidates by headhunting as whichever type of recruitment undertaken can lead to struggles to find qualified and experienced candidates!  

We all understand the importance of Omanisation however even if every national who was of working age and fit to work found a place in the workforce there would still be a requirement for expatriates.  

This is simply because there are insufficient nationals available (irrespective of qualification, skills and experience). This is not unique to Oman and is a problem faced by many countries in the world.  

Add to the 'numbers' problem that the qualifications, skills and experience required by businesses are also not available in abundance means that those that are 'right for the job' are able to demand higher and higher salaries forcing salaries up due to the supply and demand issue. This presents real challenges for SME's who cannot afford the money being demanded and Oman needs SME's to flourish.  

In addition to this if Omanisation targets have to be met and you may find yourself in a position having to offer the position to someone who is not an ideal match for the role or promoting someone who is not
quite ready.  How does this support business and economic growth?

One of the challenges faced is that to gain the necessary experience one often has to start at the bottom, growing and developing oneself over time to achieve the highest levels and it is important to acknowledge that not everyone will get to the top and indeed it is vital for a country that people are available, and more importantly willing, to work at all levels.  

If a company is to undertake headhunting, it is usually because the position is senior or of a specialist nature — given that the skills and experience may not exist, or they are in short supply, then wouldn't it be better for the business (and ultimately therefore the country) to get the best person for the job even if
they are an expat.  

Consider including knowledge transfer and mentoring in the role and effectively monitor to ensure this happens, shortening the time taken for an Omani to become effective and move into the role.

Qualifications are great to have but experience is vital so my advice is to take the more junior roles, work hard, continue to learn and grow to enable movement at the right time into more senior roles.  

Don't expect to leave university or college and become a manager immediately.  Ensure that the training undertaken is relevant to what businesses need and over time, Omanisation won't be seen as such a challenge.  

To use an old saying "Rome wasn't built in a day" so let's work together to start building for the future of Oman!

The author is the General Manager of Competence HR in Muscat, having worked in Oman for five years. She has over 30 years international experience in human resources management and consultancy including specialising in employment law and training and development related matters. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely hers and not of Times of Oman.


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