By Zainab Al Nasseri — MUSCAT: May 8 – The disciplines that will be in demand in the coming years are business management, nursing and economy (bachelor course), and civil engineering, information technology (IT) and mechanical engineering (high diploma). The highest disciplines needed in the job markets from 2016 to 2030 were declared by the national project on alignment of higher education outcomes with the needs of the labour market. According to the surveys, the highest disciplines expected to fill the markets during the period are agriculture (bachelor course), and banking and chemistry (high diploma). The project, whose vision is to reduce the number of Omani job-seekers and provide the markets with local expertise, also studied the replacement of expatriates working in the country by nationals.
According to data available, 211,922 expatriates holding bachelor degrees and diplomas occupy different positions in the public and private sectors.
The information was highlighted at a seminar on ‘Education, Development Trends, and Current and Future Employment Opportunities in the Labour Market’ on Monday. It was organised by the Education Council and presided over by Dr Rawya bint Saud al Busaidiyah, Minister of Higher Education and Chairperson of the Education Council. The seminar was attended by ministers, under-secretaries, members of the State Council and Majlis Ash’shura, besides experts and specialists on education, business and planning in the government and private sectors.
Dr Rawya said: “Alignment of outcomes with the constant needs of the labour market cannot be done perfectly as some may think. Yet, great efforts have been made to achieve the alignment and we did achieve it, relatively. This issue is happening not only in Oman but at international levels as well because of dynamic labour markets influenced by different changes in all aspects related to human activities.”
She said the parties concerned with education, training, supervision and planning fields should be involved in following up on development activities in the country.
The Ministry of Higher Education, she said, is keen on providing students with academic knowledge as well as general skills to prepare them for the job market.
“However, self-employment or entrepreneurship is one of the most vital alternatives at the international level and the most influential factor in economy,” she added.
Dr Ali bin Saud al Bimani, Vice-Chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), told the Observer that it is important to know the labour market needs, and we have a clear vision of our academic plan for the years to come.
“What we need to do is form teams to look at the market requirements based on current specialisations.”
As far as training is concerned, the public and private sectors are “cooperative” in teaching students the skills they need, he said.
He said: “We already have this cooperation in SQU as most colleges have advisory boards presided over by people from business fields. They discuss issues such as changing curriculum and enhancing skills.”
In his opening speech, Dr Said Bin Hamed al Rubaii, Secretary-General, Education Council, highlighted the reality of employment and the required employment opportunities in future development plans.
Dr Salim bin Zuaid al Hashmi from SQU, Chairman, Project Administrative and Financial Committee; and Shaikha bint Mohammed al Mukhainyia, member, Project Executive Committee, introduced the project and examined its vision and objectives.
It’s a nationwide project implemented by SQU to qualitatively and quantitatively study the current and future needs of the Omani labour market and establish a specialised and ongoing database to link education with the labour market.
It established a specialised database and estimated the current higher education outcome needs of the labour market in terms of projected numbers and required skills.
Using a visual show, speakers indicated that an economic model was built to assess future needs based on different economic scenarios.
A handbook for linking jobs and professions with disciplines in both the public and private sectors was developed.
An electronic system was designed to provide data on jobs and disciplines in order to obtain alignment results in real time.
The project assessed outcomes of higher education institutions based on their major and minor disciplines, and aligned these with the estimated quantitative needs of the Omani labour market until 2030 based on five main scenarios.
The second paper was dedicated to ‘Global Trends of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Its Implications on Education and Labour Market’. The paper was presented by Professor Costas Chryssou, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise and Engagement at Muscat University.
It dwelt on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its objectives and economic implications as well as its impact on the labour market in terms of the quality of jobs and professions that will appear in the future and the skills required for it.
It discussed the effects of the revolution on the educational system and how to develop it to prepare qualified cadres who can survive and work in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The third paper was presented by Dr Adham bin Turky al Said, Assistant Professor, College of Economics and Political Science, SQU.
It focused on ‘Current Economic Situation in Oman and Future Trends and Implications on Education and Employment’. The paper analysed the expected socio-economic situations in Oman based on current trends and future outlooks.
It focused on the implications of these trends on education and employment, and academic and training institutions programmes and disciplines.
— Photos by Khalfan al Tobi