BRIDGE OF HOPE

June 12, 2019Hubert Vaz

http://www.theweek.co.om/ISSUES/834/BRIDGE-OF-HOPE

Kulthoom al Khmaiyasi, a spirited young participant of this year’s National Youth Programme for Skills Development, is out to equip young Omani job seekers with something powerful. It’s a vital tool that puts a candidate ahead of competition and in good light for prospective employers – a successful internship. 

Her project is an online platform that connects job seekers to internship opportunities in private and public establishments.

Kulthoom, an MSc in Applied Economics, is an economic researcher in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Jisser, which means ‘bridge’ in Arabic, is a project she had conceived during her college days at Sultan Qaboos University, and has now taken it forward along with two other young women.

By bridging the gap between education and employment by providing internships opportunities to young job seekers, she aims to equip them with the much -needed experience which most employers look for in prospective employees.

The firm has already enrolled a few thousand young graduates as well as signed on a good number of companies which seek to provide internships with the hope of identifying promising talent in a variety of fields.

Kulthoom and her teammates – Shamsa al Sharji, a software engineer skilled in data warehousing and NET framework, and Rahma al Shaqsi, a mechanical and industrial engineer who is also a licensed trainer in self-motivation – are the three pillars of Jisser who hope to someday devote all efforts in taking this budding firm to new heights and revolutionise the job market in Oman.

“The main problem facing most young job seekers is the lack of relevant work experience. With Jisser, we hope to address that problem.”

Kulthoom al khmaiyasi CO-Founder, Jisser

When the trio signed up for the National Youth Programme for Skills Development, spearheaded by the Diwan of Royal Court to carry out His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s vision for developing the youth in Oman, they were among 11,000 participants from all over Oman. They were lucky to get shortlisted from among 1,000 participants in Stage I and subsequently underwent several rounds of training and workshops that were provided to help the youths shape and create formidable projects that would ultimately receive suitable funding, if shortlisted.

“I joined Jisseras one of its first volunteers. It helped me improve my communication skills, especially interacting with professionals.”

Fatik al Amri, Volunteer

Currently they are among a batch of 200 shortlisted candidates in Stage II who have to prepare and present viable projects for Oman during the final round to in August. Having researched her project thoroughly, Kulthoom is fully aware that Middle East stands out as a region having one of youngest populations where over 60 per cent is below 30 years old.  At the same time, it is also the region with one of the highest youth unemployment rates and lowest youth labour force participation. And, Oman is not an exception, she points out.

“One of the main difficulties facing youths on the lookout for jobs is the lack of relevant work experience, and there was need for creating a platform to provide information on available opportunities. Hence, we decided to launch Jisser as an automated internship platform with the main aim of providing a link between internship opportunities and young internship seekers,” said Kulthoom, adding that the initial response to the platform has been very encouraging.

Hopeful that the presentation on their project will make an impression on the judging panel, Kulthoom said that once it gets financial backing, the project will really take off and gain more credibility among the workforce as well as employers in Oman.

This is the need of the hour as unemployment among the youth has been steadily increasing and becoming a cause of concern, she said, adding that merely fulfilling Omanisation targets was not enough; there’s need for getting youths ready for taking up jobs.

“All companies do business to make money. And if they employ inexperienced or unskilled employees just to meet Omanisation targets, it will be of no use. Hence, they need to employ experienced and efficient employees,” she said.

As for the job preference among most youths, Kulthoom asserted that those who look for a comfortable and secure job usually prefer government employment.

However, the ones who seek growth and challenges that will help them develop their own potential and climb their way up to successful careers are the ones who go for private companies. “The smart ones seek private employment,” she quipped.

“I am confident that our project will get approved as it is a unique concept and it also serves young job seekers.”

Shamsa al Sharji, CO-Founder, Jisser