Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

UAE Careers: Emiratis urged to embrace gaps in private sector companies

Companies want to see more UAE nationals to avoid high turnover, though many are more tempted by the private sector

Emirati jobseekers speak to recruiters at Careers UAE at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National
Emirati jobseekers speak to recruiters at Careers UAE at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National

Young Emiratis have been urged to take up vacancies in private sector firms at a time when greater opportunities are on offer.

At the UAE Careers fair in Dubai on Tuesday, top recruiters said the private sector workplace is changing.

This month, the government even unified public holidays between sectors, which will come into effect this year.

The move is part of long-standing efforts to encourage Emiratis to look away from government jobs, which the vast majority of nationals work in.

Fuad Sharaf, managing director of the retail company Majid Al Futtaim, which employs more than 40,000 people, said the perception on the part of some people that Emiratis are looking for short hours and high salaries was unfair.

“That mindset changed a long time ago,” he told The National on the first day of the job fair, which runs until Thursday.

“The Emiratis are dedicated and prepared to work 24/7, they want to learn. I know this because I work with Emiratis on a daily basis.”

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Job seekers at the Careers UAE 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National for Patrick Ryan's story
The fair looks to match public and private sector companies and jobseekers. Leslie Pableo for The National

Nabil Qayed, a director at global ports operator DP World, said the recent decision to unify holidays in the private sector and public sector — which traditionally has more leave — would help recruitment.

“People used to leave private companies because of this,” he said.

“Now that barrier has gone. Staff in the private sector can spend just as much time with their families."

More than 18,000 visitors are expected to attend the jobs fair, which connects Emirati job seekers with more than 100 companies, from both the public and private sectors.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DP World applicants at the Careers UAE 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National for Patrick Ryan's story
Jobseekers at the DP World stand. Leslie Pableo for The National

Careers UAE is being held in the same week the government launched a drive to create 30,000 private sector jobs for Emiratis.

Despite recruiters' optimism on Tuesday, some jobseekers said they feel out of place in private companies.

“Other nationalities working in the private sector wrongly see us as a threat and they are afraid of us, which creates a difficult working environment,” said Fatma Al Shamali, a 24-year-old graphic designer who works for a private company but hopes to make the switch to a government sector job.

“Emiratis are constantly being compared to other nationalities in the private sector.”

She also said, in her experience, the private sector offered less scope for personal development.

“Private companies are far less flexible about working hours and offer less training.

“You get some training at the beginning to show you how things work but after that there is nothing.”

Fatima Mohamed, 24, from Sharjah, has been looking for work since she graduated from university two years ago and is considering returning to study.

“Many of my friends have gone to London to find work to study,” she said.

“I have a degree in biotechnology but there are not many opportunities for someone with my qualification here.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -Job seekers at the Careers UAE 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National for Patrick Ryan's story
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -Job seekers at the Careers UAE 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pableo for The National for Patrick Ryan's story

“I would like to work in the public sector because the salary is higher and you don’t have to work Saturdays like people in the private sector do,” she said.

One long-term job seeker was dubious about her chances of finding a job at the event.

“I am very sceptical that a lot of these companies are not just here for show,” said Zainab Al Balooshi, a Dubai resident who has been out of work since she returned to the UAE from Melbourne three years ago.

“When you email these companies looking for work they don’t even reply."

But recruitment experts said they are seeing UAE nationals who want to commit to a role — and they encouraged companies to give them a chance.

“Companies that hire Emiratis are less likely to have to worry about staff leaving for other countries,” said Noaman Al Saleh, from Dubai Air Navigations Systems, which provides air traffic control at four airports in the UAE.

“A lot of foreign nationals come to Dubai to work for a certain number of years and can often end up being headhunted by companies in other countries.

“The benefit of curating local talent is they are less likely to leave the country and go somewhere else.”

Updated: March 20, 2019 05:30 PM

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