x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Enter private sector 'for benefit of the UAE'

The head of Dubai Government's workforce development programme says Emiratis graduates should view work in the private sector as a contribution to the nation.

DUBAI // The time is ripe for young Emiratis to measure themselves against the world’s best, for their own benefit and for their country, an Emiratisation leader says.

And the place to do that is the private sector, where full support is being provided from the top levels of government, said Kamraan Siddiqui, Dubai’s head of workforce development.

“We’re in a globalised world and everyone is competing for jobs with China, Brazil, the US,” said Mr Siddiqui. “The workforce has to be competitive, so Emiratis should get within the private sector and compete with people of all nationalities.

“That won’t happen overnight but the Government has given a lot of good incentives, good support, good facilities for young people to have that chance and wants to fast-track them.

“If they have the motivation and willingness then we have a lot of tools to help.”

The Absher programme was launched last year by Sheikh Khalifa, the President, to place Emiratis in the private sector, and is administered by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Mr Siddiqui works with the Emirates Nationals Development Programme, which is overseeing the Absher initiative in Dubai.

“The Government is showing its seriousness in supporting the Emirati community, so I think it’s time for young people to step up and take the opportunities,” he said.

Most young Emiratis take government jobs because of higher starting salaries and better conditions, but Mr Siddiqui says the benefits of private-sector employment are manifold.

“The private sector may not offer graduates the same salary and comfortable conditions as the government sector, but if you apply yourself the chances of promotion and growth within private-sector companies, particularly multinational companies, are much greater.

“The message I would give a young person is think long term, think in terms of doing something for your country in a really positive way, and think about your own career prospects in the longer term.

“Any country’s economy is grown and developed through income generated by the private sector. It’s a new and emerging country, so young people should think about doing something for the nation as this is good for the solidarity and cohesion of society.

“We can see very clearly that Sheikh Khalifa and the ministry are very serious about this subject. It’s a top priority.”

The Absher initiative has an initial target of placing 1,000 Emiratis in private-sector jobs. Candidates must be at least 20 and have completed a minimum of two years in further education.

They will receive training and mentorship but as employees, rather than trainees.

More companies are actively seeking to hire Emiratis, said Ayman Haddad, Middle East and Africa managing director at the recruitment company DHR International.

“The commitment to hiring Emiratis in the private sector has been gaining momentum over the past couple of years.

“Earlier, their employment was driven by the pressure of Emiratisation, but now 80 per cent of clients are requesting Emiratis as candidates and requesting them on the shortlist.”

Mr Haddad said this trend was most noticeable in growth sectors such as retail, hospitality, oil and gas, manufacturing and health care.

He agreed with Mr Siddiqui on the prospects for advancement. “The private sector brings a diversity of opportunities for executives. It gives them exposure to entrepreneurial and commercial experience and contributes to their personal development.

“Also, it provides the opportunity to deal with multinational organisations and expands their skill base.”