An exploration of structural factors and personal agency in the education to work transition context in Oman
thesisposted on 13.03.2013, 10:49 by Tess Goodliffe
Oman, as with many other countries in the Middle East region, is facing a ‘demographic bulge’ which is resulting in a growth in youth unemployment. A significant increase in the number of graduates entering the labour market also means a more competitive environment for qualified job seekers. While graduates have traditionally sought employment in the public sector, the government is promoting ‘Omanisation’; a range of localisation policies to increase the number of Omanis being employed in the private sector and reduce dependence on an expatriate workforce. Research (Salehi-Isfahani-Dhillon, 2008; Al Lamki, 1998) suggests that despite the government’s efforts, graduates entering the regional job market have not been engaging with efforts to promote localisation. While structural factors and agency have been explored in other transition context research, this study explores these areas within the Oman education to work transition context. This research used a combination of research methods (focus groups and a self-completion questionnaire) with final year Omani students enrolled on business-related degree programmes in four different institutions in Muscat. The findings suggest that while students perceive structural factors such as government, labour market, the education system, gender and socio-cultural factors to be influencing and shaping their transition context, there is a suggestion that their own abilities and efforts have a role to play, reflecting evidence of agency in their transition behaviour. It is proposed that concepts such as Evans (2007) “bounded agency” provide a useful basis to explore the stirrings of active individualisation within the social structures of the Omani education to work transition context.