Wednesday 29th, June 2016 Written by Oman Observer in Local, Main. MUSCAT: Five sectors will be hiring the most number of graduates in Oman in 2017, which include installation/repair/maintenance services, industries/oil and gas, banking/insurance/tourism and hospitality, according to the Employer Survey 2016. However, while some sectors plan to recruit more graduates, other sectors, including oil and gas, will be recruiting fewer graduates in the coming year, according to the results of the survey announced by the Ministry of Higher Education, represented by the Graduate Survey Department. According to Dr Fatma Said al Hajri, the director of Graduate Survey Department, preliminary indicators from the survey show that the oil and gas sector, ranked as No 1 employer in 2015, dropped to No 3 in 2016. It will remain at No 3 next year too. 

“The dip in the number of graduates the sector is going to employ is because of the economic situation the country is going through,” said Al Hajri. .

The Graduate Survey 2015 results had reported similar findings. It found graduates in the fields of engineering, management and commerce and information technology were the most employed graduates in the private sector. Diploma graduates (vocational, technical and advanced) account for 54.2 per cent of those employed or to be employed by the private sector, finds the survey. Those holding a bachelor degree account for 38.6 per cent of those employed or to be employed by this sector.The survey respondents cited three main reasons for employing non-Omani graduates.

They are: Omani applicants rejected job offers for various reasons, the primary one being the salary (apparently a higher salary was demanded); Omani applicants were not suitable in terms of their experience and training; no applications were received from Omani graduates to fill up positions. Modes of recruitment according to the survey, 43 percent of employers used public recruiting agencies and advertisements in an institution’s website to employ graduates, while 37.7 per cent of employers banked on employee referrals. Surprisingly, only 17.5 per cent and 10.1 per cent of respondents reported they employed graduates through university career fairs and university career offices respectively. Graduate work experience has been the most important criteria for employers when hiring, followed by interpersonal and communication skills. Unexpectedly, academic achievement (GPA) comes fifth in the order. Many respondents reported that the graduates lacked certain skills. These included English language (speaking and writing), working under pressure, and interpersonal and communication skills. Only 25 per cent of respondents said there was cooperation between their company and the higher education institution. The percentage indicates a weak cooperation between the private sector and higher education. The respondents indicated there was cooperation in some areas. For instance, training (34.8 per cent) followed by recruitment by (28.9 per cent), and research and development (11.4 per cent). Several public and private agencies participated in the study by supplying the data on private sector employers, reviewing questionnaires or urging their executives to participate.

Some of these agencies were: Ministry of Manpower, Higher Education Institutions, Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Riyada (public authority for small and medium enterprises development), Ithraa (public authority for investment promotion and export development) and National Centre for Statistics and Information. The largest group (69.2 per cent) of respondents was those working in ‘Excellent’ companies, followed by executives from first grade companies (18.8 per cent), and international and consultancy executives (8.4 per cent) and (3.6 per cent) respectively.Executives from large institutions (100 workers or more) constituted the highest participating group (37.5 per cent) in the survey. This was followed by executives from medium-sized enterprises who accounted for 27.9 per cent. The survey, which follows the conduct of Graduate Survey 2015, captures a view of the labour market needs for qualified graduates. It studied the private sector executives’ views about the suitability of graduates’ ability and competency. It enquired about the institutions’ plans for employing fresh graduates and surveyed the sets of skills the employers focus on when hiring. The study touched upon the difficulties faced by employers in finding suitable graduates across different specialisations and qualifications. In the absence of studies on the needs of the labour market, the Ministry of Higher Education conducted the Employer Survey 2016 to fill the gap. It invited a number of CEOs and HR managers to participate in an online survey through More than 600 executives participated in the survey conducted in March. Some of the participants preferred to be visited and interviewed. After a preliminary analysis, 416 forms were considered for analysis.