Towards finding a solution for unemployed youth

By Omeira al Hattali

The slump in oil prices has thrown up several problems especially for oil-exporting countries, the major one being unemployment. The Sultanate of Oman is no exception to this growing number of unemployed. Plummeting oil prices and declining revenues has put severe constraints on the employment front both in the government as well as the private sector. The worst-hit are the fresh graduates who would have otherwise dreamed of a world of opportunities awaiting them once they graduate.

If the reports of leading economists are anything to go buy, the unemployment crisis brought about by falling oil revenues is likely to persist a few more years down the line which in effect means the wait for jobs among the unemployed in general and fresh graduates in particular will be long-drawn out affair. As is the case with other oil-dependent economies, Oman too is no exception to this trend.

With no less than 5,000-6,000 graduates being churned out by universities and colleges in Oman every year, the prospects of finding jobs for the fresh graduates as well existing unemployed graduates is indeed a daunting task. While the government is initiating several measures as well as ways and means to absorb the nationals the gap between the employed and unemployed is only widening further.

While no government all by itself can provide employment to all those who are eligible, it is also important for the private sector to provide employment opportunities. Another major issue contributing to the rising number of unemployed graduates in Oman is that several colleagues and universities in Oman are offering courses which are not job-oriented. Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in abstract and outdated courses are naturally often left without any job prospects.

According to the data released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), only 47 per cent of Omani graduates are currently employed and it takes around two years for fresh Omani male graduate to find a job while for female graduates it takes around 4 years to find a suitable job. According to sources in the Ministry of Manpower, the reason for this long wait for jobs in the case of both male and female graduates is not really because of lack of jobs but due to the fact that most graduates prefer government jobs to those in private sector.

On the other hand, the government of the Sultanate of Oman is sparing no efforts in ensuring speedy completion of the ongoing projects by employing experienced as well as fresh graduates. The government is also offering several incentives to the companies in private sector which employ more nationals. These measures it is hoped will address the problem of unemployment to great extent and in the process provide a livelihood for the aspiring Omani graduates in the days and years to come.

Omeira al Hattali is an undergraduate student at the College of Applied Sciences, Ibri, which functions under the Ministry of Higher Education

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