Abdulaziz Al Ali is the executive vice president of human resources for the Emirates Group, the hiring division of Emirates Airline that already employs more than 55,000 people. Mr Ali speaks about the challenges he faces in recruiting an additional 8,000 staff this year to keep up with the airline's ambitious expansion plans.
Emirates Airline significantly increased its order for aircraft last year. How many employees are you recruiting as part of that?
We are embarking on huge recruitment, especially for the cabin crew and pilots. We have looked at the fiscal year. The projection was about 6,000 new jobs. If we are talking about with attrition we are talking about 8,000 people altogether this year. We have already started and we are already hitting 2,000 people, with the attrition. We are looking at 2,000 cabin crew alone and 500 pilots, so we are looking at different ways (and) different regions.
What kind of different tactics are you using?
We are trying to do a bit more outside. I'm looking at setting up a centre like in the UK to recruit cabin crew as we will need a lot more. We will have this in Australia and I am trying to do that in America as well, so centres of people actually working for the airline, not agencies.
Do you normally target specific countries or areas?
We have no boundaries at all because we are a multicultural workforce. But at the moment we are trying to focus on the areas where we believe we want to expand a bit more, like the Americas and Europe. We have got a demographic staff mix so we are trying to strike a balance of Arabs, Asians, Americans and Europeans. We are trying to have a cosmopolitan look, which is really what Dubai is and what the Emirates is.
Is the target of 8,000 hires this year achievable?
It's a challenge. I can't deny that. But there's always ways of getting through it and we've always been very successful meeting those challenges. Sometimes you don't meet those numbers but we have a really good mix of staff who have heaps of knowledge about the industry, so they can innovate and do a bit more. We don't focus on just numbers; we focus on the quality of our people. If sometimes you take one person, you might not even need to take the other two jobs that you want, because you have people who are really fully rounded.
What is your Emiratisation policy?
We are an equal opportunity employer but we do have preference for UAE nationals as long as they have the right attitude. We have a target of about 500 or 600 maybe every year, just for training, and we make UAE nationals more attractive to Emirates by getting them into programmes which let them work and do a diploma or a degree at the same time. The pilot programme is attractive to a lot of people. We are looking at 100 Emirati cadet pilots for this year. At the moment about 14 per cent of our pilots are Emirati.