x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Push for jobless Emiratis to be paid unemployment benefits in UAE

Take our poll: Hamad Al Rahoumi, an FNC member from Dubai, asks again for the introduction of unemployment benefits.

“If graduates are still looking for a job more than six months out of school then they should be receiving benefits,” says Mr Al Rahoumi.
“If graduates are still looking for a job more than six months out of school then they should be receiving benefits,” says Mr Al Rahoumi.

A member of the FNC is planning to once more push for the introduction of unemployment benefit, a move already rejected in May by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

"It is up to the government to support its citizens if they cannot find work," said Hamad Al Rahoumi, an FNC member from Dubai.

Mr Al Rahoumi heads the Provisional Emiratisation Council, which was created to tackle high Emirati unemployment. He said out-of-work citizens was a serious issue that had to be addressed.

"If graduates are still looking for a job more than six months out of school then they should be receiving benefits."

In May, the council's previous call to extend financial assistance to out-of-work Emiratis was rejected at an FNC session by the Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi.

Ms Al Roumi said her ministry's role was to provide "social help" and not "social security".

"Whoever deserves it gets help," she said. "An addict who has worked on keeping to their rehabilitation programme should, as it would be hard for them to get a job, but a person who had work and quit should not."

She added the law provided for unemployment benefits only for those unable to work.

Undeterred, the committee intends to continue the pursuit of new legislation once the council reconvenes in October.

According to Mr Al Rahoumi, the first step is getting accurate statistics on Emirati unemployment, which some have put as high as 13 per cent.

"The numbers are a problem," he admitted. "I have received many different figures from various departments but we need proper numbers showing accurate rates."

He said the FNC would compile its own research, as well as gathering information from entities such as Tanmia, the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority.

"Clear numbers of the unemployed are essential," agreed Dr Natasha Ridge, the head of research at Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Studies in RAK, "but just not available".

"The type of unemployment is key to addressing the issue, are they voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed?" she said.

Many factors contribute to unemployment. "Many Emiratis decide not to take jobs, for example, because of the perceived status of particular profession.

"Even though it is a well-paid job there are practically no Emirati male teachers because of the low status associated with it."

Although she believes unemployment benefits are necessary, she said there was more to the problem than simple economics.

"People who have families to support and are unemployed need government help, but throwing more money at the problem is not going to solve it."

She said the education system was not preparing students for work.

"Career advice at school is essential in giving young people a sense of career progression," she said. "They need to see where their career paths will take them."

tsubaihi@thenational.ae