Fewer jobs for expats in construction

MUSCAT, JULY 18 – The share of expatriates in Oman’s construction jobs has dropped to 36.4 per cent in 2016 from its previous level of 39.1 per cent in 2015.
Still the construction sector absorbed the maximum number of expatriates amid a fall of 2.7 per cent, reveals the annual report of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).
Experts attribute the decline in jobs to the economic slowdown in the country.
“Jobs in the construction will continue to be under strain. The coming years will see more expatriate employees losing jobs rather than being absorbed,” said Shahswar al Balushi, CEO of Oman Society for Contractors.
Due to lack of funding, not many projects are coming up to employ more workers in the sector. Companies often find it difficult to fund their expansion and growth, he said.
“The austerity measures adopted by the government to tide over the financial crisis created by the weak oil prices are affecting the construction companies badly. Many companies do not even have money to pay salaries,” he said.

The CBO report points out that in total the momentum of employment generation in the private sector witnessed a slowdown at 9 per cent in 2016 against an average growth of 10.3 per cent during the previous five years.
“Nevertheless, the number of Omanis employed in the private sector is steadily rising and has exceeded the same level in the public sector in recent years”, says the report.
The expatriate employment in the sector stood at 8.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
According to the report, the share of ‘manufacturing’ went up to 12.3 per cent in 2016 from 11.6 per cent in 2015, while the share of ‘private household with employed persons’ in total expatriate workers in private sector remained unchanged at the same level at 10.9 per cent in 2016 and 2015. The share of ‘hotel and restaurants’ and ‘real estate and renting business’ registered increases of 6.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent in 2016, respectively from 6.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent in 2015.
“These six sectors together accounted for about 85 per cent of the total employment of expatriates in the private sector”, the apex bank said in the 2016 report.
However, the growth of expatriate employment in private sector in 2016 was the highest in ‘transport, storage and communication’ with 36.7 per cent, followed by ‘other community, social and personal services activities’ with 22.1 per cent, ‘wholesale and retail trade’ 17.3 per cent and ‘manufacturing’ 16.0 per cent.

SAMUEL KUTTY