Muscat: The government's drive to recruit nationals in the government departments is leaving gaping holes in the private sector as the number of expatriates filling those vacant positions is rising. According to official figures, foreign workers in the private sector increased by 16 per cent to 1.294 million in the first 11 months of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011.
The figures also show that on an average, 620 Omanis left private sector every month in 2012 and joined public sector — lured by better pay and working conditions. Analysts say that private companies cannot match the perks offered by the government and this is the reason behind a large number of Omanis switching jobs.
"The government employees work only seven hours a day as compared to nine hours in the private. Salaries too are much better for the civil service and security forces," Ahmed Saleem, a job consultant at Capital Manpower Company, told Times of Oman.
Saleem noted, "The vacant positions left by Omanis are quickly filled by expatriates and may have negative consequences for the future Omani job seekers."
A statement from the Council of Ministers released earlier this week urged companies to employ more Omanis and called for a balance of recruitment between the private and government sectors.
"The Cabinet is right. If jobs between the two sectors are not balanced for Omani nationals, then foreign workers will forever dominate private sector companies," Saleem added.
Finance Minister Darwish Al Balushi told reporters earlier this month that the government created 36,000 jobs in 2012 for Omanis in the public sector by spending OMR300 million. This year, Balushi pledged a further creation of 56,000 jobs, of which 36,000 will be created in the government sector.
"To keep Omanis in the private sector and avoid a large number of foreign workers' recruitment, the government must stop employing nationals who are already employed in private companies," Khamis Al Juma, an employment analyst, said.
According to official statistics, 171,901 Omanis are working with the private sector compared to over 300,000 in the government sector. Al Juma said attracting Omanis to the private sector is crucial for restricting the recruitment of an unsustainable large number of expatriates in the private sector companies.
"There are half a million youngsters in basic education at the moment and they all will be looking for jobs one time or the other. We must seriously restrict expatriates' employment and find a way to attracting Omanis to the private sector," Al Juma added.
According to the Ministry of Education figures, 522,000 students are studying in different schools nationwide.