Mubadala, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, plans to recruit more than 500 UAE nationals this year, leading a surge in hiring by companies linked to the Government.
"At this stage we are offering for 2013 as a group more than 500 vacancies for different sectors. These are sectors focused on health care, information communications technology, industry, aerospace and other sectors related to Mubadala," said Ahmad Al Marzouqui, a vice president for talent acquisition in the human capital unit of Mubadala.
The company was seeking to recruit about 20 per cent more nationals than last year, said Mr Al Marzouqui as growth accelerates among Mubadala's subsidiaries. It aims to ensure at least half of its staff at its main office are Emiratis by the end of the year.
He said the company was recognising a higher standard of skills among jobseekers to the extent that Emirati graduates were now on a par with their international peers.
"Five years ago or so there was more focus put on skills and a shift in mindset about which majors they should take and we are noticing a big shift in the education outcome system," he said.
Mr Al Marzouqui was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the Tawdheef Recruitment Show, an annual careers event that supports Emiratisation. More than 2,500 positions are on offer over the course of the three-day event.
Emirates Aluminium (Emal), a joint venture between Mubadala and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), is seeking Emiratis to fill 318 positions this year, 154 per cent more than last year.
"We are proud of the role we continue to play in supporting the diversification of the economy. Emirati talent is a major factor of how we have come so far, in remarkably little time," said Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei, the president and chief executive of Emal.
Du, the telecoms company, offered more than 200 training and career development opportunities for UAE nationals. It will also be recruiting 60 Emiratis during the year for entry-level positions, it said.
Senaat, the parent company of Emirates Steel and one of the UAE's largest industrial investment and holding companies, said it had 180 openings for nationals.
The efforts to raise levels of nationals in the workforce follow the Government's announcement that 2013 is the year of Emiratisation.
It wants to cut levels of unemployment among Emiratis, currently standing at about 20.8 per cent.
The creation of 5,000 new jobs was promised this month as part of a Dh330 billion (US$89.84bn) government injection into the Abu Dhabi economy over five years.
One of the key aims of the government plan is to push more young people into education linked to sciences and technology to help spur the knowledge-based economy.
"Only 25 per cent of Emiratis [in higher education] are enrolled in knowledge-based areas such as engineering, medicine and science and technology," said Ayoub Kazim, the managing director of Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City. "That is probably not what the leadership of the country is looking for given they want to change the UAE into a knowledge-based economy."
Others at the event questioned the effectiveness of government quotas.
"They should move away from the quota thinking and there should be a more structured approach whereby the skill set and the mindset, the knowledge and abilities, needs to be bridged between the gaps that exist and the jobs that are available, and I think if we do that we should be able to achieve some meaningful numbers rather than just numbers," said Othman Khoori, a vice president of human resources and administration at Abu Dhabi Airports Company.