While education, engineering and medicine seem to have been some of the most sought-after majors, there could be other majors that are emerging as the market dynamics evolve. Educationists are also emphasising on entrepreneurship.
“We need to look into types of jobs that are out there. Outward Bound Oman addresses exactly that. We try to increase the probability of employment by giving youngsters an opportunity to develop the right skills and right attitude. The biggest challenge for Oman is to be more open and flexible and be more business-oriented. Maybe our policies also ought to be more towards a business-friendly environment. More friendly the policies, more the investors and in turn, more job opportunities,” said His Highness Sayyid Faisal bin Turqi al Said, Patron of Outward Bound Oman.
As the national economy continues to be based on oil, engineering is still the leading trend to meet the market demand. “I think engineering is in maximum demand. But then, all the majors are in demand and successful as our graduates have proven,” said Sulaiman al Jahwari, Deputy Director, Centre for Career Guidance, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
At Middle East College (MEC), emphasis is on nourishing ideas to build entrepreneurship skills. “About 85 per cent of our graduates are already employed. We have programmes and seminars to enhance students’ abilities. Our stress is not to find jobs but to create jobs. This is the mission we are trying to accomplish,” said Dr Abdullah al Sabahy, Chairman of MEC.
The college has 75 student companies while the young owners continue with their higher studies. “We want to nourish their ideas,” added Al Sabahy.
At SQU, in addition to the local companies, regional organisations have also been showing interest in graduates as has been found during the career fairs conducted on campus.
“We have companies coming from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries. Some of them are multinational companies that have plans to have their own branches in Oman so they come in for recruitment of fresh graduates. At times the multinational companies are already present in Oman but the representatives from human resources departments come from international offices. Most importantly, we have good partnership with 300-400 employers in the country who include Omani, regional and international companies. We also have the presence of Ministry of Civil Services and Ministry of Manpower as well as Oman Association for Human Resources Directors.”
Choosing majors should not be a last-minute decision taken under pressure and grades, say experts. “It is best to be thought about even before completing high school.”
“At SQU, we have the Majors Fair by nine colleges aimed at different stakeholders, especially for students who visit from high schools and, of course, first and second year college students.
“By next year, they could be entering the university so they need to understand from now which college, which major, the nature of studying, the syllabus and the type of academic material they will study. This also helps the counsellors in schools. Each school has its own career guidance and counsellors who can guide them on majors and related jobs.
Students must remember certain majors have certain requirements and demands. For example, if you like geology, then you must be ready for field studies not only during university days, but also throughout the career,” pointed out Al Jahwari.
The problem is not about having a job, but having a job that fits, pointed out Sayyid Faisal.
“The problem is when we have a mindset that I will only work in the job that I am specialised in. The reality is that additional skills can develop a person’s portfolio. Outward Bound helps in jobs that are beyond specialisations. Multitalented and a variety of competencies could give a person better job opportunities,” he said.
“We need the youth to broaden their boundaries and perspective. Employers are looking for individuals with the right mindset, values and work ethics as well as for people who are keen to learn on the job. That shift in mindset is the biggest challenge that we have. There might be jobs that could be obsolete within 10-20 years. But we have new areas like the railways. We did not have that option a few years ago. But the biggest game-changer for Oman would be reforms in the policies and regulations that would be truly business-driven.”