Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

Private sector work helps us to grow

Civil-service employment is important, but it will do nothing to grow the whole economy
The private sector must be the place where the bulk of new jobs are found. Sarah Dea / The National
The private sector must be the place where the bulk of new jobs are found. Sarah Dea / The National

The Government has established seven teams in each of the seven emirates to match Emirati jobseekers with private sector jobs. The numbers are stark: more than 9,000 Emiratis are seeking employment and most of them are women. The public sector cannot simply fill in the gaps, so the private sector must be the place where the bulk of new jobs are found.

The creation of these teams is part of recognising that there is a problem in recruiting Emiratis into the private sector. A research paper published at the end of last year suggested a number of reasons why nationals do not like the private sector, with the most common reason being the perception that working hours were longer than in the public sector. The second most common response, however, was a belief that working in the public sector contributed to the development of the country. In other words, working for the Government was patriotic.

However, it might be argued that working in the private sector is equally in the national interest. Here’s why: the public sector cannot grow the economy. Of course, the public sector is responsible for making sure most of the things that enable the economy continue to function – roads and airports and electricity and human resources – but it cannot create jobs. Every new job has to be paid for out of the Government’s treasury.

The private sector, by contrast, is an engine of growth. New products, new services, new companies can be created, and with them new jobs and new sources of revenue. In this way, the nation’s interest is served by having the brightest, most dynamic nationals in the private sector.

The question then becomes: what are the structural impediments and how can they be overcome? Two of those identified by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation were poor English skills and a lack of experience.

English language skills should, anyway, be a focus in schools. But there should also be opportunities for those who finished school – even if many years ago –to reskill, through short courses at colleges and universities. As for a lack of experience, a focus on internships and cooperation between industries and the education sector could ensure the right mix of skills.

Getting more nationals into the private sector is a long road. The path must be assembled piece by piece.

Updated: February 8, 2017 04:00 AM

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