x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Telecoms in bid to lift ratio of Emiratis in workforce

Du plans to employ 220 Emirati nationals in a new call centre in Fujairah.

Emiratis currently make up 23 per cent of du's workforce and 36 per cent of the company's senior management.
Emiratis currently make up 23 per cent of du's workforce and 36 per cent of the company's senior management.

The telecommunications company du plans to recruit 220 Emiratis as part of a target to have nationals make up a quarter of its total workforce by the end of the year.

Recruits will be based at a new call centre in Fujairah, which the company said would be fully staffed by Emiratis. It is set to open in the next quarter.

Farid Faraidooni, the chief commercial officer at du, said the recruitment campaign would start immediately.

"We are aiming for the centre to be operating sometime in the third quarter of the year. It will be staffed and managed 100 per cent by Emiratis," said Mr Faraidooni.

"The initial plan is that we recruit 220 Emirati nationals over the next three years. This number can go up if the demand is higher."

Emiratis currently make up 23 per cent of du's workforce and 36 per cent of the company's senior management, Mr Faraidooni said.

The company said it intended to increase the total number of Emirati staff annually, but did not have a final target in mind.

"We want to increase that [overall] percentage as much as possible," said Mr Faraidooni. "Our plan is that we add three percentage points each year."

The call centre in Fujairah is set to be operational 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Emirati staff are expected to be offered the same salaries as call centre workers of other nationalities, according to the "standard du salary scale".

The facility, which will be fully managed by du, will employ men and women. The operator did not disclose the value of its investment in launching the centre.

Mr Faraidooni declined to specify salary rates. He said the company would make the jobs "attractive and exciting" to UAE nationals.

"We have a lot of UAE nationals that work in today's call centre. We are not trying something new here," he said.

"We invest in the training and we invest in their skills."

Panos Manolopoulos, the vice chairman for regions at the recruitment consultancy Stanton Chase International who is based in Dubai, said du's Emiratisation drive marked "a good initiative".

But Mr Manolopoulos said there must also be a focus on encouraging young people to seek out such jobs.

"The Emiratisation issue lies more in the education and preparation of young people," he said. "There has to be a lot of effort in the educational part … how you reorientate young Emiratis.

"Emirati nationals, as with any other nationals, should be in all positions starting with entry-level positions."

Many companies have launched Emiratisation drives in an attempt to encourage UAE nationals to take work in the private sector.

Mr Manolopoulos said many Emiratis had historically taken "well paid" public-sector work.

He said the call centre jobs being offered by du may not be as attractive in terms of salary but he did not think that would deter nationals.

bflanagan@thenational.ae