x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A mission to cultivate home-grown UAE talent

Mubadala's success depends on attracting, developing and retaining hard-working Emiratis and committed expatriates as it competes in the global economy.

Tawdheef 2013 welcomed thousands of qualified Emirati professionals. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Tawdheef 2013 welcomed thousands of qualified Emirati professionals. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

The Tawdheef recruitment exhibition in the capital last week reinforced what many of us already know: there are significant opportunities for young and talented Emiratis - and numerous candidates in search of the right career.

The employment landscape is different than it was a few years ago. As the public sector reaches a point of saturation, a private-sector occupation is becoming a compelling and much-needed alternative. Exciting long-term careers are now possible in industry sectors that never existed in Abu Dhabi before.

These sectors will require a global mindset and strong business sensibilities, which can only be nurtured by exposing our local talent to businesses competing on a global scale.

Mubadala, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, was a strong supporter of this year's Tawdheef exhibition, with good reason. The attraction, retention and development of a highly skilled local workforce is central to our success.

Over the next several years, Mubadala-owned companies will create thousands of jobs in aerospace, information communications technology, hospitality, financial services, health care and industry in the UAE.

Mubadala's mandate is not just financial and commercial success, or building new, global industrial sectors; the end result is contributing to the development of a knowledge-based economy and a thriving private sector.

As we grow new Abu Dhabi companies and industries, we see the opportunity to add to the skill development of the UAE. At the core of our human-capital strategy is harnessing global talent to develop these new verticals while simultaneously building the local talent that will sustain these industries far into the future.

Some employers are already warning they are struggling to find the applicants with the right qualifications to meet their needs.

That is why we have started programmes to develop future recruits with the requisite skills, in semiconductors, energy, aeronautics and other industries. If we cannot find these individuals we have to work with our local partners and stakeholders to build the talent pipeline that will meet the future needs of these businesses.

Equally important to the establishment of sustainable and globally competitive businesses will be developing local capabilities and transferable skills in core corporate functions such as human resources, communications, law, information technology and finance. We know how important it is to get this right, and also for individuals in these disciplines to have a partner at every stage of their careers.

Through scholarship programmes and close cooperation with universities, vocational institutions and key stakeholders throughout the Abu Dhabi Government, we aim to cultivate and nourish this home-grown talent.

We are committed to sustainable, successful employment for UAE nationals, and our strategy reflects a patient and long-term approach to human-capital development - an approach focused not just on quantity, but, more importantly, on quality.

One element of our strategy is to identify truly "Emiratisable" positions, and to use a multifaceted approach to attract and develop the right candidates for these roles. We don't want to hire people just for the sake of short-term employment, as that is not good for either the individual or the entity involved.

We know that there are industries and career paths, such as health care and aviation, that have the potential to be attractive to Emiratis. However, these industries require long-term education commitments.

While there are many young people taking this path, the majority are still studying or are new to the workforce.

Other career options are just not relevant to the majority of Emiratis, whether as a result of the education or travel requirements of the role, or because they do not offer benefits or long-term prospects that are attractive. So matching the right candidate with the right position is critical to getting it right.

We are fortunate to have attracted some of the most talented employees not just in the UAE but throughout the world. This year, in the Year of Emiratisation, Mubadala's core workforce will have in just 10 years evolved into a majority-Emirati team, with UAE nationals at the manager level tripling in just three years. As we see many of our longer-term projects and industry verticals coming to fruition, we must continue to work hard to accelerate Emiratisation more broadly across our group and in line with our socio-economic mandate.

Central to this approach will be to make the most of every opportunity to attract talented and hard-working Emiratis to companies such as Strata, Ammroc, Emal, Al Taif and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

We don't have all the answers; that is why we are working with our partners to constantly review and improve our human-capital strategy and approach.

Emiratisation is not just about putting UAE nationals to work; it is the fulfilment of Sheikh Zayed's vision, that our society must sustain itself beyond its historical economic base by competing in the modern economy. To do that, we have to find, recruit and train the most talented citizens.

We must also retain those talented and committed expatriates who often provide the valuable knowledge and capabilities that help to ensure we maintain the competitive edge that will help us excel at home and abroad.

The ongoing commitment of our organisation, in the spirit of Tawdheef and with our partner companies, is to pull together and achieve this essential goal.

Khaled Al Qubaisi is executive director of Mubadala Human Capital