ABU DHABI // Unemployment among Emiratis has reached almost 13 per cent, according to one of the most comprehensive sets of figures to date on employment and the federal government sector.
The figures, released yesterday, accompanied a report by the FNC's health, labour and social affairs committee analysing the policies of the Federal Authority for Human Resources (FAHR).
They were included in a study by Tanmia, the employment and human resources authority, dating from July 2009.
The statistics paint a picture of a public sector dominated by Emiratis, but with significant levels of unemployment, particularly among women and young people.
Overall unemployment among nationals was 12.9 per cent. The unemployed were defined as being over 15 years of age, and are able to and actively seeking work.
The percentage of unemployment in the southern emirates was 11.6 per cent, and 16.6 per cent in the northern emirates. Unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 was estimated at 23.1 per cent.
The committee report also said the number of Emiratis in federal government jobs was too low.
Emiratis made up 69 per cent of federal employees in 2006, a figure that declined in 2008 to 54.5 per cent. It had increased by April last year to 60.9 per cent, but the FNC argued that this rise was insufficient.
Experts caution that the public sector has become saturated. Figures released earlier by the FNC's finance committee show that federal bodies spend disproportionate amounts of their budget on salaries and employ too many personnel in management posts. The Ministry of Interior, for example, spends 92 per cent of its budget on salaries.
Government officials have called for Emiratis to join the private sector instead of opting for government jobs.
Proposals to further emiratise the federal government are hampered by the fact that, as the FNC noted, local government salaries were up to 54 per cent higher than in the federal government.
FNC members complain this has led to the bleeding of quality professionals away from top ministries.
In addition, the committee argued federal bodies that did not give women enough maternity leave or time to breast-feed their children discouraged women from having more children. One member said this essentially resulted in one or two-child policies.
More than 100 federal bodies still do not have nurseries in the workplace, which is compulsory by law.
Ruwaya al Samahi, a member from Fujairah, said such working conditions could dissuade a woman from having more than one child.
Humaid al Qattami, the chairman of the FAHR and Minister of Education, said it had set up a committee of women leaders that will propose a set of measures to make the federal Government a more friendly work environment for women. Their study will be completed in the first quarter of the year.
The committee's proposals included a measure to reduce the time before women can retire from 20 years to 15 years, and would abolish the minimum women's age for retirement, which is 50. It would also set up a court to handle grievances related to federal sector jobs.
Voting on the committee's proposals was delayed until the next FNC meeting, after the committee's chairman walked out of the session in protest at being interrupted by the Speaker.
This story has been corrected since its original publication. The FNC report defines the unemployed as "being over 15 years of age, without jobs and are able to and actively seeking work", and not '"not actively seeking work" as we originally published.