x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

New plans announced to boost Emiratis in workforce

Federal Cabinet issues landmark resolutions to meet projected growth by 2030, encourage balanced development and cut unskilled jobs

ABU DHABI // A raft of measures aimed at shaping the nation's workforce of the future were announced yesterday with a strong focus on the empowerment of UAE nationals.

Three resolutions aimed at transforming the UAE's demographic structure over the next 20 years were issued at a meeting of the Federal Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

The first resolution established benchmarks to develop the Emirati workforce to meet projected economic and social growth by 2030, according to the state news agency, WAM.

A second resolution instructed all authorities concerned with economic planning and with monitoring the workforce to adopt "balanced development".

Relying on economic diversification, a skilled and qualified workforce and the advances of modern technology were key to developing a knowledge-based economy that generated opportunities for all citizens, WAM said.

The third resolution limited the "unorganised recruitment" of unskilled workers. Instead, recruitment from within the country was to be encouraged, and only a highly skilled labour force, with accompanying vocational or educational degrees, would be brought to the country. However, domestic workers or other categories of labourers may be exempt from this rule.

Mohammed al Neaimi, director of the Government's Tawteen programme to encourage Emiratisation, said the motives behind the resolutions were clear: to have UAE nationals empowered through education and a developing economy to hold a strong position in the labour market.

"A foreigner holds a certain position, and the priority is to have the Emirati citizen become competent enough to hold that same position," Mr al Neaimi said.

WAM reported that to fulfill the requirements of the resolution the Federal Cabinet approved the creation of a fund for "productivity improvement". Mr al Neaimi said Dh44 million would go towards this fund, known as the Khalifa Fund for Tawteen.

The fund will be managed by the Federal Demographic Structure Council, chaired by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who attended yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.

"We have to improve the representation of Emirati citizens in the private sector, and prepare them to take an active role in the private job market," Mr al Neaimi said.

"We have to have more of a balance, and encourage Emirati youth to take part in all the different jobs of the country.”

According to a recent report by the Ministry of Labour, there are between 20,000 and 30,000 Emiratis in the private sector, out of 3.8 million employees. Comparatively, 70 per cent of employees in the government sector are Emirati.

The Cabinet urged authorities to establish recruitment centres in countries that provide labourers to the UAE. These centres will test and train prospective workers without burdening employers with the additional cost, and will restrict the number of unskilled workers coming to the UAE.

The construction sector, the largest employer of unskilled workers, was urged to establish guidelines and tests to reduce the requirement for unskilled labourers and rely more on modern technology.

Minimum requirements for jobs in construction will be set.

The Federal Demographic Structure Council will oversee the implementation of the resolutions, and define a ceiling for the numbers in vocational and marginal professions, or any other professions that could be replaced by modern technology.

Sheikh Mohammed said the resolutions were based on the instructions of the President, Sheikh Khalifa; instructions that “are clear: to empower the UAE citizen and make him the key engine of development.

hkhalaf@thenational.ae