x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

FNC to tackle jobless youth

New council sets up special committee on Emiratisation amid growing concern over high unemployment, especially among the young.

ABU DHABI // The FNC has set up a special committee on Emiratisation amid growing concern over high unemployment rates, especially among the young.

At their first session on Tuesday council members could not agree which of the FNC's eight existing committees could best tackle the issue. Hamad Al Rahoumi (elected, Dubai) suggested a temporary committee to do so.

He was supported by the newly elected Speaker, Mohamed Al Mur (appointed, Dubai), who said it was an "important and sensitive" issue.

The committee will have five members, including Mr Al Rahoumi and Rashad Bukhash (elected, Dubai), who both campaigned for election on Emiratisation issues.

"There needs to be cooperation with universities," Mr Bukhash said after Tuesday's session. "We need graduates in the fields available in the market. We cannot have an interior designer when there are no jobs out there once they graduate."

Ahmed Al Mansouri (appointed, Dubai), the director general of Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology, will also sit on the committee.

"Our space programme is made up of 100 per cent Emiratis," he said. "This is the best example of how Emiratis can advance in science and technology. Nothing is too difficult for them."

Mr Al Mansouri said the private sector must abandon negative stereotypes of Emiratis. "We are productive," he said.

"The private sector has to play a strong role in absorbing Emiratis. It is part of giving back to the community, especially as there are no taxes. It is a social responsibility."

Unemployment in Arab League member countries averages 26 per cent, it was reported this week. The figure is lower in the UAE, but Mr Al Mansouri said it was "still very high".

In January, unemployment among UAE nationals aged 15 and over was 12.9 per cent, but among those between 15 and 24 it was 23.1 per cent. Last year Emiratis held just over 60 per cent of government jobs, but only 0.4 per cent of jobs in the private sector.

At a G20 labour ministers' meeting in September, the Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash, said unemployment among UAE nationals had risen steadily, even before the global economic downturn.

More than half of 598 UAE nationals surveyed for a Gallup report in April were pessimistic about employment. Only a third thought it was a good time to look for a job. "The greatest challenge that young Emiratis face relates to perceptions about jobs," the report said.

A previous report by Gallup last year found that 9 per cent of 598 Emiratis would rather not live here.

While that is a small number, Mr Al Mansouri said it was still too high. "Losing our people who are actually capable people to other countries is not good. Losing resources is not good for the region," he said.

osalem@thenational.ae