x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Unqualified workers to be phased out

At least half of the UAE's 3.9 million workers don't have a school-leaver's certificate, which the Ministry of Labour wants to make compulsory.

DUBAI // The Ministry of Labour has detailed its plans to phase unqualified labourers out of the workforce.

Humaid bin Demas, the undersecretary of the ministry, said the Government's aim was for most labourers to have at least a school-leaver's certificate.

Last year, the Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash, said that half of the 3.9 million-strong workforce was unskilled.

Most of those without qualifications were among the 1.5 million employed in construction.

A new classification system, introduced in January, aims to encourage companies to recruit Emiratis and skilled workers by offering them cheap labour cards and an exemption from the Dh3,000-a-head labour insurance.

One company found that it would be able to save more than Dh2.5 million in labour card fees if it reshuffled its employees and hired more Emiratis and skilled labourers.

Mr bin Demas also said that no labourer would be brought in for a job that could be done by an Emirati. "This is followed in Europe and America," he added.

By the end of this year, the new national qualifications authority should be ready to check that all incoming labourers' qualifications are valid.