DUBAI // Like a growing number of Emiratis, Hind al Ali would like to gain job experience by working in a bank.
The 21-year-old Sharjah College student sought a leg up on the competition by attending the first day of a job fair yesterday. The ongoing National Career Exhibition at the Expo Centre in Sharjah is aimed at encouraging more Emiratis to work in banking and other industries.
"I would like to work at a company where I can develop and reach my potential," said Ms al Ali. "I believe there are so many opportunities that are opening up for us, and I am hopeful that I will find a job by the time I graduate."
More than 100 establishments, including banks, insurance companies, money exchanges and government agencies are taking part in the career fair, which continues todayand tomorrow.
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, yesterday opened the 13th holding of the exhibition.
Reem al Rubae, a 21-year-old Emirati, was among those on the job hunt.
"I want to work at a bank to gain experience, because the salaries are good and you get to interact with customers," said Ms al Rubae. "I would like to work at a bank that can offer me the training that I need."
Efforts are being made to increase the number of Emiratis in various industries. Banks have outperformed other sectors.
The total number of Emiratis working in banks reached 12,851 out of 37,340 employees in 2009, an Emiratisation rate of 34.4 per cent, and a 3.3 per cent increase compared with 2008.
"The banking sector has been the best able to achieve its Emiratisation targets and we are hoping this will continue," said Feddah Lootah, the director general of Tanmia, the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority. "Last year, we helped find a lot of jobs for Emiratis in this sector, and there are also many training programmes for UAE nationals in finance and banking."
Ahmad Humaid al Tayer, the chairman of Tanmia's board of trustees, said that statistics for last year showed that the percentage of Emiratis in the banking sector had increased by 1 per cent since 2009, reaching 35.4 per cent.
Mr al Tayer noted that national banks had also increased their Emiratisation, with 12 banks exceeding the rate of Emiratisation at 40 per cent.
However, Mr al Tayer said that some sectors were falling short.
"The rates of Emiratisation are still under target, as can be seen in the insurance sector, which has not exceeded 6.5 per cent for the past 15 years, and it is unreasonable that more than 40 exchange companies still do not have any UAE nationals, while a third of banks still show an Emiratisation rate of less than 20 per cent," he said. "Although we cannot deny that some have made great efforts and managed to raise the proportion of Emiratis to up to 50 per cent."
Secondary school students are also given an opportunity for a head start, by investigating the requirements of various institutions.
"We want to give the students an awareness of the jobs that are available in the market and what they need to do to qualify for a position when they graduate," said Adel Khairi Saeed, a teacher at Al Urooba Boys School in Sharjah. "We have been bringing the students here for the past 10 years and I find that they are responsive to the fair."
The secondary school student Khalifa Mohammad, 18, said he would like to gain some work experience.
"I would really like to get some training and to learn as much as I can, so the salary is the last thing that I would think about now," said Mr Mohammad. "I hope to have my own private business some day, and I would encourage all young people to make the most of the opportunities being offered to us."