Expat workers cross 1 million |
Oman Daily Observer - 03 July, 2012
The size of the expatriate workforce employed by the private sector soared above the one-million mark for the first time last year, fuelled by strong demand primarily in the manufacturing, construction and hotel industries.
Foreign workers employed by private firms totalled 1,114,590 last year, representing a 16.6 per cent increase over the previous year's tally of 955,630 workers with valid labour cards, the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) stated in its latest Annual Report.
Citing statistics compiled by the Ministry of Manpower, the CBO report said that private sector employment — Omanis and expatriates included — climbed 13.7 per cent in 2011 from 9.8 per cent in the previous year. But despite the domination of expatriates in the private sector, more and more Omanis continue to join private firms compared with recruitment trends in the public sector, the apex bank noted.
'With increasing emphasis being placed on economic diversification with private partnership, prospects for higher employment generation for Omanis in the private sector has been a key policy focus of the government.
'The result is clearly visible from the number of Omanis employed in the private sector being consistently higher since 2007 and the margin is increasing, over the employment of Omanis in the public sector. In fact, the private sector has the potential to employ large numbers of Omanis with greater skill acquisition and training,' the report said.
Expatriates accounted for 86.5 per cent of the total number of people working in the private sector last year, up from 84.3 per cent in 2010, the CBO said. The growth was the highest in the manufacturing sector (23.9 per cent), which saw expat numbers climb to 129,661 workers last year, from 104,678 a year earlier. Recruitment by private companies providing 'community and personal services' also jumped 19.8 per cent to 25,463 workers in 2011, according to the CBO report.
Other categories that registered significant increases in expat recruitment last year were: ‘Private Household with Employed Persons’ — 107,659 workers (an increase of 15.2 pc), ‘Agriculture and Fisheries’ — 74,859 workers (increase of 14.8 pc), and ‘Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities — 42,909 workers (increase of 17.5 pc).
The key construction sector, which accounts for a hefty 43.4 pc of expats working in the private sector, saw recruitment levels jump 19.2 pc to 483,179 workers in 2011. The growth is linked to the robust pace of infrastructure development witnessed across the country, encompassing the maritime, aviation, road and tourism sectors. “Most of the expatriates employed in the construction sector typically belong to the unskilled category of labour doing mostly manual work,” the CBO report said.
Another major employer of expats was the ‘Wholesale, Retail Trade and Car Repairs’ segment with 133,716 foreign workers (12 pc of the total). Next came the ’Manufacturing’ sector with 129,661 workers (11.6 pc). Those working in ‘Private Households’ totalled 107,659 last year, representing 9.7 pc of the total.
“To attain sustained progress on Omanisation, dependence on expatriate workers in these areas needs to be rationalised. Increasing expenditure on education and skills acquisition for Omanis will help to replace the expatriates over time in these sectors,” the apex bank noted.