Despite several years of awareness, reforms and training programmes on Emiratisation, some old habits persist. At the Tawdheef recruitment show in Abu Dhabi yesterday, many Emiratis were gathered around governments booths. Some told The National they would accept any job as long as it was in the public sector. Booths that offered jobs in hospitality and the private sector saw limited interest.
It is a worrying trend. In Abu Dhabi, there are between 12,000 and 13,000 Emirati jobseekers a year. Many of those have a good education, but they have difficulty finding the right job. To keep up with demand, hundreds of thousands of new job opportunities will have to be created over the next decade.
One of the major reasons for this is widespread misconceptions both on the part of the private sector and jobseekers. Elements in the private sector, as we report today, complain of a "lack of commitment" from Emiratis in their jobs.
Some Emiratis, on the other hand, say that companies are biased against them and employers tend to ignore their potential. They say that companies often do not provide clear criteria for jobs offered, with some merely advertising "there is a job" for Emiratis.
Emiratis entering the job market must be convinced that a job is not just a paycheque, but a vocation. It is not just about the numbers. In many ways, professionals are defined by their jobs, and Emiratis need to have the information and opportunity to find the fields that best fit their talents and aspirations
Companies can improve advertisement of vacancies properly and provide adequate details, including potential advancement in the workplace. The Government must also develop partnerships with the private sector by expanding job databases or job centres, for example.
A model was on display at the recruitment show. Companies like Etisalat and du attracted many Emirati jobseekers to their booths. That is partly because jobseekers know them, the jobs they offer and the potential.
Not far away, hospitality companies were being ignored. This is a growing sector, vital to the economy and full of opportunity for the right candidates. The strengths of this industry, and others where Emiratis are under-represented, have to be communicated more effectively.