MUSCAT, MARCH 24 - Seeking to crack down on companies exploiting loopholes to recruit expatriates for oilfield jobs, Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas has announced that its no-objection will be necessary before the Manpower Ministry entertains any requests for labour clearances related to oilfield recruitment.
Salim bin Nasser al Aufi (pictured), Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Oil & Gas, made the revelation at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Oman Society for Petroleum Services (OPAL) last week.
“We will ask the Ministry of Manpower to block all requests for work permits from everyone —contractors, operators and service providers — which do not come with a letter of approval from the Ministry of Oil & Gas,” Al Aufi said.
That no-objection certification (NOC), he explained, will be provided only when companies seeking work permits furnish “demonstrable evidence” proving they have done due diligence in advertising for any vacancies, interviewing Omani candidates, and eventually failing to come up with anyone suitable.
“So before you go to the Ministry of Manpower and ask for work permits, you need to demonstrate to us at the Ministry of Oil & Gas or OPAL that you have advertised for that particular position for at least one or two weeks, provide proof of applications received — whether from Omani jobseekers or those looking to change employers —that you have done the interviews and concluded that nobody was suitable for that position. It is only against this demonstrable evidence that we will grant you a letter from the Ministry of Oil & Gas stating that we fully support your work permit request. That should, by definition, strengthen your application request,” he elaborated.
Advertisements for vacancies may be placed either in local newspapers, company websites or specialised portals for petro-jobs, the Under-Secretary said, warning that the ministry will crack down on recruitments where the recruited expat candidates do not meet the advertised job descriptions.
“I have come across cases where an advertisement was issued, Omanis were excluded, and then an (expatriate) individual was recruited who did not meet all of the requirements set out in the job description. We will try to plug these loopholes through this new process,” he said.
The Under-Secretary clarified that the measure would initially apply only to new labour clearances, but could be rolled out in the future to include renewals as well. The NOC system, he noted, has already been put in place, starting with work permit requests for Drilling and Hoist Services related vacancies.
The initiative, he explained, was necessary to ensure that the Oil & Gas sector generates a sustained pipeline of jobs for Omanis, and not only in response to periodical directives from the Manpower Ministry or the 25K jobs campaign initiated last year on His Majesty the Sultan’s Royal Directives.
The Oil & Gas sector has pledged to contribute 5,000 jobs towards the 25K total, Al Aufi said. “The numbers are encouraging so far, and although we are not there yet, we are moving in the right direction. The important goal is to generate 5,000 meaningful jobs,” he added.
But he stressed the need for a continuous system of job creation in the industry based on skills development, accreditation of vocational training colleges, progressive omanisation of jobs in segments like construction services, for example, where the uptake of Omanis is still low, and so on.