How Can Sultan Qaboos University Respond to the Contemporary Challenges of the Omani Labour Market Needs and Community Expectations?

Al-Balushi, Abdul Latif (2008) How Can Sultan Qaboos University Respond to the Contemporary Challenges of the Omani Labour Market Needs and Community Expectations? PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Higher education systems in developing countries have mixed results in satisfying their nations’ labour market requirements, and community needs and expectations. Oman, a member of the Gulf Country Council (GCC), sustained the rapid economic development that has featured within the region over the past three decades. However, a contentious issue for the GCC, including Oman, is the provision of higher education qualifications sufficient for graduates to compete successfully in local labour markets dominated by experienced expatriates. This study explores the factors contributing to high unemployment for the mass communications graduates of Oman’s principal educational facility, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). Semi-structured interviews with graduates, students and their parents, university and government representatives and public and private employers have revealed a range of views about the employability of the graduates and the university course which sought to prepare them for the labour market. The analysis of the interview data revealed that conventional human capital themes failed to account for the range of views about the effects of the course on graduate employability. Until a decade ago, human capital principles that value years of learning served Oman well as it provided sufficient educational capacity to deliver graduates for its expanding public services. However, when the country’s burgeoning public sector ceased the automatic acceptance of SQU graduates, later cohorts from mass communications courses were unable to source work in Oman’s small private sector mass media industry. The findings from the study were that traditional human capital accumulation is insufficient to deliver jobs; the human risk capital is too high. Risk factors for mass communications students include course admission, curriculum content and delivery, language fluency and technology. Further, employer perceptions of the mass communications qualification and of graduates’ commitment to a work ethic were barriers to employment. A significant contribution of the research is the recognition that the framework of educational practices, associated with what has been termed social capital, provides an alternative and more constructive means of analysis the data. The findings of the research point to the need for a university in a country such as Oman to expand its educational responsibility by taking on a social capital curriculum whose principal feature is the establishment of communicative links between local communities, the university and workplaces. A social capital curriculum, increasingly pursued as best practice for developed countries, can deliver work ready graduates acceptable to employers. Valid for GCC and wider use, a model of the capital theory elements, processes and risks is included in this comparative study.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords labour market needs, community expectations, higher education, social capital curriculum, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman
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