UAE - The Emiratisation drive is being hailed by UAE citizens who are calling it a "great and bold move" to address the labour market demands of the country.
The reaction comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, that the plan for Emiratisation in Dubai has been approved, in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"Providing a decent life to every citizen is our top priority," said Sheikh Hamdan. "The people of the UAE have proved themselves in all fields and we are proud of their achievements."
"We will look at the obstacles that have affected the Emiratisation process, and work towards improving them, according to the needs of the labour market as well as the skills of our citizens."
The work plan, which falls under the Strategy for the Advanced Skills National Programme approved by the UAE Cabinet, will focus on coordinating efforts at local and federal levels to achieve the strategic objective of providing a job position to every UAE national.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Emirati Haitham Saeed Awadh Al Tamimi, a banker who lives in Dubai, said: "This is a great and bold move from the top level. I think a lot of organisations are not taking the matter (Emiratisation) seriously. A lot of organisations are doing it for the sake of numbers and not believing what Emiratis can bring to the table.
The decision of making Emiratisation a priority will change the attitude.
"On the other hand, Emiratis need to play a big role by putting our efforts and energy towards the opportunities that will come up. We have to prove that we are capable of working under any circumstances," Al Tamimi, who has 14 years of experience in banking, emphasised.
Some employers are pointing out the big gap between public and private companies in hiring Emiratis. Esam Al Mazroei, vice-chairman at Bahri & Mazroei Group, said: "Private sector companies do not hire Emiratis as much as they want due to the cost. Also, Emiratis prefer the government sector as there are more opportunities and benefits such as public holidays."
"More rewards should be given to the private sector to hire UAE nationals. In the long run, private sectors will gain from the knowledge and culture that Emiratis will contribute," added the Emirati entrepreneur. He suggested that the government could look into a programme where they share the cost of hiring Emiratis for a period of time. "It could be around three to five years and there should be a plan career development to groom the Emirati employees for bigger roles."
Abdulmutalib (Talib) Hashim, managing director at TBH, an Emiratisation consultancy, said the Emiratisation has been one of the hottest and most debatable topics. "The debate saw a strong renewed attention on the topic from everyone starting with the jobseekers who have come out to share their own personal experience and frustration, to the candidates running for election for the Federal National Council (FNC)," he noted. "The UAE do not seem to be anywhere near achieving the Emiratisation targets in the private sector which was announced a few years ago.
"According to a Khalifa Fund research paper published in 2016, around 250,000 young Emiratis are expected to enter the job market in the next few years. That same survey reported that 90 per cent of the youth continue to find the private sector less attractive and prefer to work in the public sector. Judging by the conversation on social media, I do not think that attitude towards the private sector has changed significantly since then," he summarised.
Hashim concluded that there should be a holistic approach to win both the public and private sectors to arrive at a common ground and move forward with the Emiratisation plan. "I fear that if there is a stalemate, the government might have to consider stronger alternatives."
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