Government pushing to boost Emiratisation tenfold in the next five years

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 15 Mar 2017

Foreign-owned private sector employers expected to hire more UAE nationals

The number of Emiratis hired by the private sector needs to increase to 10 times the current number within the next five years, according to the government authority, the Federal National Council (FNC).
Members of the FNC expressed their disappointment about the number of nationals being offered private sector jobs recently, saying that foreign-owned businesses are benefitting from using world-class services and facilities in the UAE, but not recruiting enough locals in return.
The FNC has recently implemented a strategy of using specialised recruiters across all Emirates, with the aim of finding jobs for around 9,200 unemployed UAE nationals – of which 80 per cent of are female, and most living in the northern emirates.
Following the economic downturn, and the drop in the oil price, jobs have been more difficult to come by for all nationalities. With many organisations reducing staff benefits, freezing salaries or making redundancies in 2016, the push to employ more UAE nationals could place extra financial pressure on employers.
“My view is that the government is trying to focus on diversity of roles for nationals, which means working in both the public and private sectors,” said Craig Kirkpatrick, associate director of Emiratisation at Charterhouse.
“There are many roles within private organisations that require nationals, such as government relations managers and HR & Emiratisation managers. The banking and insurance sectors have extensive graduate programmes for the career development of nationals. As with any country, it is imperative that you have a national population with a strong employment rate, and the government is ensuring that this covers both the private and government sectors.”
In 2016, a research paper by Mohammed Humaid Aljanahi called Challenges to the Emiratisation process: content analysis, found that skill standards, salary and benefits and business hours are all challenges that have impeded the recruitment of Emirati nationals into the private sector.
GCC policy migration researcher in the Middle East, Froilan T. Malit Jr., and labour policy expert Ali Al Youha said: “Employers generally prefer high-skilled expatriates and often ignore the presence of high-skilled UAE nationals, giving rise to economic competition between the two – and leaving Emirati professionals generally underutilised within the labour market.”
Kirkpatrick added: “Like many countries, there is a quota system for expatriates that are allowed to be employed. However, if an expatriate has specific skills that are not available in the local market, then an expatriate should be hired for the role.
“The best option would be to employ a national who would be trained by the expatriate, giving him or her exposure to develop in the workplace, with the ultimate goal of being able to fill the role of an expatriate. The UAE will always be a place of opportunity for both the local population and expatriates, where everyone has the opportunity to grow and learn from each other.”