Research project highlights obstacles to Emiratisation
DUBAI // A lack of understanding about staffing targets, salary expectations, job desirability and slow recruitment processes are among the obstacles hindering Emiratisation efforts in Dubai, according to a research paper.
Mahmoud Al Ali, a technician with more than 20 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry and a recent graduate from Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, studied the challenges as part of his bachelor’s degree in business and human resources management.
The 45-year-old Sharjah native, who works for Adnoc in Ruwais, interned at a government department in Dubai to produce his research paper, entitled “Emiratisation in Dubai Government Departments”.
“The aim was to find where the gaps were and understand why they existed,” said Mr Al Ali, who was not allowed to identify the department. “Mainly, they were in the technical fields.” Of the 30 Emiratis working at the department, two were labourers, 11 were technicians, 11 worked in administration and six were senior managers.
That was far below the Emiratisation target of achieving a quarter of the 295-strong workforce.
“Technicians felt that they weren’t treated or paid as well as the people at the headquarters, and allowances, such as hardship allowances like we get [in the oil and gas industry], weren’t offered,” Mr Al Ali said.
“It was felt that there needed to be a healthier and safer working environment for the technical workers out in the field. This perception leads to demotivation, so staff retention then becomes a challenge.”
Mr Al Ali said the situation had changed since he started work in the oil and gas industry two decades ago. “There’s a big difference. Where I’m working there’s a lot of locals, Emiratis from all over the emirates,” he said.
“Ruwais is a remote area and what’s attracting them there are the salaries, the benefits and the allowances.”
He also identified management’s lack of understanding of the objectives and policies of Emiratisation, and a lack of communication between human-resources workers and management. “The recruitment process is also so slow that by the time Emiratis are even offered these jobs, they have found employment elsewhere.
“HR departments really need skilled teams who understand the policies,” said Mr Al Ali.
Abdulmuttalib Al Hashimi, an Emiratisation consultant at Next Level, praised Mr Al Ali’s research.
“There’s been a lot of lip service when it comes to nationalisation and some of the issues [Mr Al Ali] touched on are things that are common with many entities,” said Mr Al Hashimi.
The slow recruitment process was a problem, he said. Perceptions about manual or technical roles and the social stigma attached could also be an obstacle.
Mr Al Hashimi said government departments could learn from the oil and gas industry about rewarding labour.
But higher salaries were not the only solution, he said, adding that it was important to raise awareness among Emiratis about job opportunities and encouraging them to take them on.
Updated: June 21, 2014 04:00 AM