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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Emirati youth mull private sector jobs but perks of government work persist

Students attending a three-day employment forum expressed interest in the career progression that can be achieved in private sector work despite expected challenges

<p>Mohammed Faisal, a student at Colleges of Higher Technology, is studying in aviation engineering and also believes the private sector offers more opportunities for career growth.&nbsp;Chris Whiteoak / The National</p>
Mohammed Faisal, a student at Colleges of Higher Technology, is studying in aviation engineering and also believes the private sector offers more opportunities for career growth. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Preparing Emirati students for employment and encouraging them to pursue opportunities in the private sector is vital to the country’s growth, the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation has said.

More than a thousand Emirati students attended a three-day employment forum organised by the Ministry this week where dozens of training workshops were held and internships were on offer.

“The Ministry has been implementing a package of policies and programmes to train and qualify Emiratis to enter the job market,” said Minister Nasser Al Hamli. “Educating students about future occupations and prepare them to deal with future changes is vital.”

Among those changes is the move towards greater use of artificial intelligence.

Marwan Khalid, an Emirati student at the Religious Institute for Secondary Education School, attended the first day of the forum on Monday. He plans to become an engineer with a focus on AI.

“The purpose behind studying engineering and artificial intelligence is adapting to the rapid changes in the world,” he said.

“The field of artificial intelligence is going forward. Therefore, adapting to changes is a must.

“Many experts in the future careers have talked about the need to embrace AI intelligence in our studies and think about how the world is changing,” said Mr Khalid.

He expects to be paid more than Dh25,000 after he graduates and is keen on working in the private sector.

“Majoring in engineering and artificial intelligence will be of a great benefit for the country. I attended the forum to learn about job interviews and know how the field I am choosing will be beneficial to the private sector,” he said.

<p>Mada Masoud, 21, attends&nbsp;the second day of an emiratisation forum in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National</p>
Mada Masoud, 21, attends the second day of an emiratisation forum in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mada Masoud, a 21-year-old student at Zayed University, is also keen to explore opportunities in the private sector.

“Although I expect to face some challenges in the private sector, I prefer to get a job in a private organisation where I can explore my potential. Working in the private sector allows us to gain more experience and polish our skills. Also, it enables employees to get promoted gradually.”

She said some Emiratis still preferred to work with the government, particularly if their relatives worked there too.

“The government sector can’t have enough job opportunities for all Emirati youth,” she said.

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Mohammed Faisal, a student at Colleges of Higher Technology, is studying in aviation engineering and also believes the private sector offers more opportunities for career growth. “The future lies in working in the private sector, especially in 2020. There are opportunities to further our skills,” the 21-year-old said.

But for some of the students who attended the forum, the advantages of working for the public sector cannot be ignored.

Fatima Mohammed, a senior student at the Higher Colleges of Technology, said that having experienced work in the private sector, she would rather work for the government.

The 24-year-old previously worked as a data inserter at Tasheel where, depending on employee productivity, they would receive a bonus.

She said she expects to earn a monthly salary between Dh10,000 and Dh15,000.

“Working in the private sector has positive and negative sides. In private sector, the harder the person works, the more money they get. However, the private sector has less holidays than the government sector,” she said.

<p>Training sessions are held on the second day of the three-day employment forum in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National</p>
Training sessions are held on the second day of the three-day employment forum in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Dr Hussain Majid, is director of the human resources and administration at Taweelah B Power and Desalination Complex, where 40 per cent of the 238 employees are Emirati.

He said young Emiratis are more likely to drift towards government jobs because they offer a sense of security and stability. But said the pay disparity was a misconception.

“The salary expected for fresh Emirati graduates is around Dh25,000. However, salaries for fresh graduate engineers in the private sector might reach Dh40,000. It is not always about the salary. It depends on the major and sector those young Emiratis are specialised in,” he said.

There have been efforts made by the government to shift attitudes towards the private sector, he said, such as the nationwide drive for companies to prioritise Emiratis over expatriates announced last month where the ministry selected 400 job titles of positions at 2,000 companies that it wants to see Emiratis given the opportunity to fill.

Dr Majid said the preference for government work is still unlikely to sway some Emiratis. “Preferring a job in the government sector is rooted deep within the UAE society due to the flexible nature of the job,” he said.

“Career progression in private sector is more common.

“Companies in the private sector have a clear plan about what employees and what they can achieve in the future, unlike the government sector due to the enormous number of employees.”