x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emiratisation plan requires teamwork

New federal guidelines should help reinvigorate the Emiratisation drive, but many long-standing concerns need addressing.

The UAE's Emiratisation programme has met various degrees of success in the face of job market uncertainty and the rising number of expatriates entering the country. But the new policy announced yesterday could finally give it the kick-start needed to bring significant numbers of Emiratis into the private sector.

The Federal Cabinet has drafted three new resolutions intended to streamline the process of integrating Emiratis into the workplace and prepare them for prominent positions in the future.

This is a welcome initiative. No doubt the Government will, in the coming days, reveal details of how it hopes to proceed. Certainly this challenge will demand a well defined strategy.

Bringing more Emiratis into the private sector remains a strategic issue. Beyond real demographic constraints, there is also the fact that many Emiratis gravitate toward public sector jobs, which offer better job security and salaries that private sector firms cannot match. Still, the notion that most Emiratis are not interested in working in the private sector is an oversimplification.

Employers, for their part, have either stuck to outdated stereotypes about Emiratis, or failed to set up efficient recruitment processes. In fact, many individuals complain that they are unaware of job opportunities in the private sector. That is simple employer short-sightedness.

Hiring Emiratis brings numerous benefits for private firms. To start with Emiratis need neither visa and document processing nor foreign recruitment costs and delays. They also bring with them local knowledge and community connections that can lead to greater revenues and business opportunities. Ultimately, it is the right thing to do for any business.

But the education system must play an integral role in bringing Emirati workers into the private workforce. Schools must provide better career counselling and vocational training. Last year, a survey by the Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation found that just half of Arab executives felt that Emiratis were prepared for work in their industries.

Improving school standards must be made a priority.

It is crucial for the well-being of the country that Emiratisation efforts succeed. But for that to happen, every stakeholder from Government to employers, and schools to young Emiratis themselves must work in unison.