The Human Resource, today and for long time, continues to play an increasingly visible and important role in the strategic planning for both public and private sectors, requiring a new level of skill and competency among HR capacity. Therefore, successful HR professionals have adopted an orientation that focusses on how they can play a central role in implementing the firm’s or government’s strategy. A public or private entity’s strategic plan is the organisational plan for how it will match its internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats in order to maintain a competitive advantage, where human resources considered as a major input in this respect.
The HR strategy, which is supposed to fit with the master organisational strategy, looked at as a main fuel and support for such master strategic plan. In formulating their strategies, HR managers must address three basic challenges to assure that they fit with the master strategy. First, support corporate productivity and performance improvement efforts. Second, employees play an expanded role in employers’ performance improvement efforts. Third, HR must be more involved in designing, not just executing the firm’s strategic plan. In order to have an effective competitive strategy, the company must have one or more competitive advantages. The real differentiation is people. This is why human resources are important even in the most technologically automated facilities.
HR managers are increasingly assuming more strategic planning responsibilities and involvement in the planning process. They contribute by identifying human issues that are vital to business strategy, helping to establish and execute strategy, and forecasting potential obstacles to success. Therefore, HR managers can provide alternative insights and are centrally involved in creating responsive and market-driven organisations.
HR management is in a unique position to supply competitive intelligence useful in the strategic planning process, such as competitors’ incentive plans, pending legislation, and the company’s internal human strengths and weaknesses. By working closely with top management, HR is able to build a persuasive case through a strategy-oriented HR system that shows how the firm’s HR activities contribute to creating value for the company.
What have been discussed so far is from the theoretical perspective. Let’s have a look into the Omani context. It appears from the literature that there is a consensus among academicians and politicians that the Omani government put a huge investment and effort in developing national human resources which shown effective contribution in public service and private sector. The government adopted a broad concept of human resources development as reflected in Oman Economic Vision 2020, where human resources development was considered as a target not a mean for economic development.
There are two main strategies available for the government: Omanisation and creating new jobs and to provide the national labour force with employment opportunities. Both can be achieved by developing the national human resource through training and education and make it ready to take this challenge. Oman has developed its unique human resources development strategy in order to fulfill the needs of its labour market and to contribute to the sustainable economic development. The government focusses on vocational training, supporting self-employment projects and individual initiatives, developing higher education, and improving employment-related attitudes and perceptions. It was also found that the private sector has participated and shared with the government in implementing the Omanisation policies, in the areas of training and employment. It is clear that the close cooperation between the government and private sector increases the effectiveness of Omanisation policy.
The outcomes of the government strategy and policies were shown in the increasing numbers of national labour force in both public and private sectors. But still there are some obstacles facing the Omanisation policy which can be grouped according to the literature into supply-related problems, demand-related problems and behavioural-related problems. But the aims and pushing factors of Omanisation policy play a critical role and persistency in the effective implementation.
Provision of increased opportunities of suitable employment for people, according to their qualifications and capabilities, is one of the basic development objectives in Oman (Oman Economic Vision). It was believed that development can’t be achieved without availability of an educated and well-trained labour force. The Omani employment policies can be divided into two sets: policies concerning employment in public sector and policies concerning employment in private sector. The former based on the role of the Ministry of Civil Service to develop and enact employment-related rules, procedures, policies, and legislations. The latter set of policies is based on the provision of technical education and vocational training and to increase the cost of the expatriate labour, to enable competition of Omanis with expatriate labour. Additional area of focus for employment policies in private sector is to extend social security umbrella, limit expatriate labour in specific professions, promoting labour legislations, raising the awareness of private employers, and stressing the need to contribute in implementing the Omanisation policy.
According to Oman Economic Vision 2020, the strategy aimed to increase the numbers of Omanis in private sector and at the same time reduces the numbers in public sector. Because most of the Omanis preferred the public sector, the policy aimed to reduce the disparities in employment benefits and allowances between the public and private sectors. In addition, more areas of focus were mentioned in the employment policies in private sector such as developing handcrafts, increasing women participation in labour market, upgrading the employment units, introducing a unified job classification and providing an appropriate climate in terms of health and safety for the Omani labour force. Accordingly, the Omani strategy aims to improve the indicators concerned with measuring the development of the labour market as follows:
• To increase the Omani labour force from 17 to 50 percent
• To increase the participation of women from 6 to 12 percent
• To increase the Omanisation ratio in the public sector from 68 to 95 percent
• To increase the Omanisation ratio in the private sector from 15 to 75 percent
According to the government statistics, there is an increasing percentage of Omani labour in both private and public sectors. Considering the expatriate labour, it is clear that there is a decreasing trend in public sector during the previous decades. The number of Omanis is more than the expatriate workforce in public sector from the beginning. In private sector, the situation is different, where the number and growth rate of expatriate workforce is more than those of the Omani workforce.
It was known that the Omanis private sector grown under the direct supervision and support of the government. The government continued to support this sector financially, commercially, industrially, and through provision of services. This support was aimed to achieve greater outcomes in terms of contribution to the economic development and in job creation. The statistics doesn’t reflect the ambitions of the government to the contribution of the private sector. The data might not be the right one due to many reasons as it takes only the registered Omani labour force, and only the official expatriate labour force. The data also reflects that the expatriate labour force is increasing which reflects the growing private sector activities but the national contribution not exceeding 19 percent.