How COVID-19 is helping Oman develop a future-ready workforce

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sami Al Asmi, Curator, Muscat Hub


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the digitalization of many Omani companies and made part-time and remote work a new reality;
  • Oman’s workforce will need access to information on these emerging opportunities and young recruits will need the training required to make the most of them;
  • The pandemic has reset work trends and Oman’s HR leaders will need to rethink the workforce, employee training and approaches to measuring performance.

In recent years, how to be more inclusive of youth and their capabilities in the workforce has been one of Oman’s primary challenges. The National Center for Statistics & Information’s census suggests that Omani youth between the ages of 18 to 29 represents 46.7% of the Sultanate’s population. As such, every year there is an influx of fresh graduates met with an imbalance of available opportunities.

Fortunately, a series of reforms issued by His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq has ensured steady rotation in the workforce, specifically in the government sector. These include a reduction in the retirement age and the introduction of a Job Security Fund with a starting budget of $26 million.

To bridge the skills gap between national workforce supply and industry demand, the Omani government has also set up a nationwide training infrastructure and tasked the Ministry of Labour with developing Omani talent for the jobs of today and opportunities of tomorrow.

Omani companies keen to compete in the global marketplace will have to reinforce their training commitments as job requirements evolve, particularly as working lives get longer, and workers of all ages will need to regularly update existing skills and learn new ones.

Constant reskilling to add to an individual’s pre-existing area of expertise and life-long learning are challenging the traditional reliance on solely school-based learning. The digital age has made continued learning easy with tools including e-learning platforms, such as Oman’s own Edlal, Coursera and Udemy. Acquiring and honing new skills that are relevant to the need of the hour is beneficial; predicting and meeting the skill needs of the future is critical to make our economies shatter-proof.

The top 10 skills required in 2025
The top 10 skills required in 2025 Image: World Economic Forum

Oman and the “Human Cloud”

Omani companies and youth alike are already logging on to sites like Fiverr or Upwork and using the “Human Cloud” to get jobs done or to offer their services. Instead of being a threat to Omani jobs, the Human Cloud offers a wealth of opportunities to local talent willing to go online and meet the needs of global companies.

However, it is fundamental to ensure that our young employment seekers, wherever they are in Oman, are trained with in-demand skills, have access to the equipment they need, have places and spaces to work and, most importantly, are equipped with the knowledge and information necessary to present and promote themselves on these sites.

Adapting business models to COVID-19 situations

The pandemic has brought some industries to a devastating halt, while others are still in the process of adapting to this new reality.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed companies in Oman letting go of their traditional business models and adopting the latest possible modes of operating. This move has been particularly noticeable in companies that had not moved assets to the cloud and were now doing so at full throttle. In a matter of weeks, Oman became a society where remote working was no longer a consideration for the future but a present-day reality.

How COVID-19 is affecting companies
How COVID-19 is affecting companies Image: World Economic Forum

The country also relaxed the regulations for setting up small-to-medium enterprises, which brought a rapid and unprecedented surge in new independent businesses. In a way, it can be said that the Omani youth has been swift to pursue entrepreneurship without a second thought – an encouraging feat and a vision for the future

The pandemic has also set in motion the wide acceptance of part-time work, as temporary work, “gig” or freelance work become part of the “new normal”. Many people may now juggle a number of projects rather than jobs in their work portfolio at any one time.

This is advantageous to the Omani economy where new industries are yet to open. Young Omanis are free to offer their skills and services to multiple companies simultaneously. This variety of projects will allow them to gain a range of experience that a traditional job position may no longer offer. The Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry has recognized this benefit and is currently in the process of setting up an effective plan that enables part-time work for one and all.

Pandemic proofing

As the pandemic resets work trends, Oman’s HR leaders will need to rethink the workforce, employee training and approaches to measuring performance. Criteria for employment will perhaps be more inclusive of a diverse skill set rather than focused on region-based experience, while potential candidates will be bold enough to question an employer’s integrity. coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications – a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

In the long run, the benefits of automation, AI and digitization are going to be enormous. Like the industrial revolutions that came before, the effects will be positive. The advantages to greater diversification will be huge in crucial pillars of Oman’s economy like manufacturing and logistics. ASYAD has already predicted the use of drones to enhance global trade, for example. What we need to fear is not massive unemployment caused by technological change but growing inequalities in different segments of the workforce.

As we look to the future, to reset and rebalance, we must ensure Oman’s workforce has access to the information on emerging opportunities at home, online and abroad and to the training required to make the most of them.

This applies especially to gig and cloud workers who will not have access to the safety nets and guidance provided by HR professionals and other necessary resources. These workers will need support systems that keep them updated, encouraged and motivated; help them obtain the tools they need and guide them in organizing their time and planning for a financially secure future.

With the right systems of support and guidance, we can redress imbalances and allow our workforce to enjoy a secure future in which they can provide for themselves and their families and contribute to the socio-economic goals of Oman’s Vision 2040.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

From Sweden to India, School climate strikes have gone global

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Mergers: Commission fines Canon €28 million for partially implementing its acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation before notification and merger control approval

Environment Committee MEPs push for cleaner trucks and electric buses

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Employment MEPs want to ensure more flexibility and clarity for EU mobile workers

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

Gender is where the feminist and LGBTI movements meet. Here’s why

Bold measures needed to protect cross-border and seasonal workers in EU, MEPs say

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Where are the charities in the great Artificial Intelligence debate?

European Youth Forum welcomes steps towards raising awareness of youth rights by EU ministers

How a bionic arm is helping one little girl enjoy the things most take for granted

3 leaders on creating a pipeline for female talent in business

‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones

Canada needs to increase foreign aid flows in line with its renewed engagement

Climate change: Another year of record gas emissions, warns UN meteorological agency

JADE Generations Club: Connecting perspectives, changing Europe.

Banks can fight financial crime. But we can’t do it alone

Smoking VS Vaping: is it a battle?

Yes, together we can make a change! YO!Fest and EYE 2016

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

UN receives ‘Humanium’ wristwatch gift, symbolizing peaceful transformation

COVID-19 and natural disasters: €823 million in EU aid for eight member states

The blackened white coat of the doctors

5 Black heroes of the environmental movement

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

Is 2019 the beginning of the end for coal in Europe?

Primary Healthcare vs Specialization Careers, how to promote PHC to the Young Health Workforce?

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

The green hydrogen revolution has started, and it won’t be stopped

German banks suffer of nausea amidst rough seas

What is behind the wide reach of  fake news about Coronavirus?

Who will secure Lithuania?

After Rio Grande tragedy, UNICEF chief highlights ‘dire’ detention centres on US-Mexico border

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

Portugal wants its emigrants back – so it’s paying them to return

Coronavirus: Commission presents “Staying safe from COVID-19 during winter” strategy

Why Obama asks approval from Congress to bomb Syria?

A quarter of Americans have no retirement savings

How to build an entrepreneurial university

European Commission launches infringement proceedings against the UK following its failure to name a candidate for EU Commissioner

10 ways COVID-19 could reshape offices

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

90% of European Jews say antisemitism is getting worse

The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

Security Council gravely concerned by Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, demands immediate end to violence hampering response

Safer products: EP and Council close deal to beef up checks and inspections

“Unequivocal support” for the people of Bulgaria in their legitimate demands

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

Serious concerns over Sahel, require ‘urgent action’: Senior UN Africa official

We don’t know how autonomous vehicles will depreciate – and that’s a problem

Bayer-Monsanto merger: the story of the rise of the “endless company”

UN launches new fund to advance sustainable development in Aral Sea region

More countries are making progress on corruption – but there’s much to be done, says a new report

Strong multilateral institutions key to tackling world’s dramatic challenges, UN chief says In Moscow

The Italian crisis may act as a catalyst for less austerity

State aid: Commission approves Belgian scheme deferring payment by Walloon airports of concession fees to mitigate economic impact of coronavirus outbreak

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s