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Jobs galore, no more cut in headcounts


By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Feb 18 - There will be thousands of new jobs in the Sultanate following the government’s planned investments in non-oil projects and expansion plans by several companies. New project reports and survey results point out that the job market is set to witness stability in the current year after redundancies caused by drop in oil prices. According to reports, payroll check to cut headcounts will be a news of the past. More firms are planning to expand their workforce in sectors like manufacturing, tourism and healthcare.

“The Sultanate will focus on getting more Omanis into the private sector. Many of these positions are currently held by foreign workers that the nationals can competently handle,” opines Shaswar al Balushi, CEO of Oman Society for Contractors. There are thousands of jobs in the construction sector alone, Shaswar, who is also member of Tanfeedh, Oman’s National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification, told the Observer. Projects and initiatives proposed by Tanfeedh are expected to generate 30,000 new jobs for Omanis in different sectors by 2020. Of these, manufacturing sector will see 21 projects attracting RO 10.5 billion in investments while generating 13,000 jobs.

The tourism sector, which is expected to attract investments worth RO 1.8 billion, will generate an additional 10,000 jobs. Similarly, logistics sector is expected to provide 7,000 jobs by 2020. Oman’s budget statement indicates that the country’s private sector is expected to generate between 12,000 and 13,000 new jobs in the current year. Statistics, issued by National Centre of Statistics and Information, show the number of Omanis working in the private sector has increased to 222,000 in 2016, rising by 13,000. According to a survey by GulfTalent, despite redundancies caused by the collapse in oil prices, Oman and other Gulf countries are set to witness a stabilisation of jobs in 2017.

According to the survey findings, the number of companies cutting headcount is set to drop drastically, from 40 per cent in 2016 to just 23 per cent planning cuts this year. At the same time, more companies plan to expand their workforce, increasing from 41 per cent in the past year to 47 per cent in 2017. Manufacturers reported the most positive outlook, with 58 per cent of firms in the sector planning to grow staff numbers in 2017. The sector has been a prime focus of economic diversification efforts by governments in the last couple of years.

Healthcare companies, including hospitals, reported the second highest rate of jobs growth, with 55 per cent of firms planning headcount expansion. “This is also largely on the back of increasing demand from a fast- growing population, further fuelled by government investment and regulatory changes requiring employers to provide medical cover for their employees,” the GulfTalent survey points out. According to Jobibex, despite the fact that Oman and GCC markets are going through a rough patch where increasing payroll check is not on the agenda of almost every player in these market, there will be abundance of jobs in 2017. “However, employers would only consider top performers in order to justify what seems to be counterintuitive decision of hiring during these tough times,” the company says in a report.

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