x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Young Emiratis find career path tricky

To broaden Emiratisation, a single entity is needed to help young Emiratis find employment in the private sector, say Tawteen team leaders.

The Tawteen team leaders Saoud Karmastaji, left, and Hamad al Zaabi with photos taken at a camp for integrating Emiratis into the private sector.
The Tawteen team leaders Saoud Karmastaji, left, and Hamad al Zaabi with photos taken at a camp for integrating Emiratis into the private sector.

ABU DHABI // Young Emiratis are calling for a single entity to help them land elusive jobs in the private sector and flourish once there. The proposal was among a number of suggestions from participants in Tawteen Leadership Academy, a series of leadership camps. The Tawteen programme, which is created by the Emirates Foundation, is dedicated to helping Emirati students hone their skills for jobs with some of the largest commercial companies in the country. The programme has been significantly expanded this year, from seven camps to 20. The first phase of the programme, involving three-day camps on Futaisi Island in Abu Dhabi and at Tadreeb Camp in Ras al Khaimah, ran from December to April. The second phase, dubbed Al Tahhadi Club, ended last week. It focused on developing the students' problem-solving, research and presentation skills by requiring them to interview representatives of private companies about the barriers to and the benefits of recruiting and retaining Emiratis. A wrap-up panel discussion last week was attended by camp participants and academics and by representatives from banks, the petroleum industry and non-governmental organisations. "There is no linking entity between both Emirati students and private companies. Neither knows much about the other," said Hamad al Zaabi, a team leader at the Tahhadi Club who is also a financial analyst at Abu Dhabi Polymers Co Ltd (Borouge). "Emiratis only think of the public sector, because it is the only thing they know. They are not aware of the importance of the private sector and its opportunities." "When they do go and apply for a private company, the company would not tell them much about promotion opportunities and future positions," Mr al Zaabi added. "They don't say, for example, if you work for a certain period of time you would be reaching a certain level at the company. "They do not advertise their vacancies properly, and no further details beyond 'there is a job.'" Saoud Karmastaji, another team leader who is also a power performance engineer at Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, said: "There is a lot of initiatives, especially in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, interested in Emiratisation, which cater to Emirati needs and training. However, there is no one entity that brings them together. "We have suggested to the panel establishing a council that would represent all these initiatives in addition to different sectors in the country. We can call it 'compass', whose function is to direct these different parties to one direction." Another suggestion was for a unified database to be a reference on universities, private companies and governmental institutions. Tawteen is seeking to be an umbrella entity that facilitates other entities' Emiratisation efforts so vacancies in the public or private sector, and information about available specialisations, are brought to the attention of Emirati students. Students also asked for an independent academy to oversee professional training in the private sector for students ages 14 to 16. One current problem, he added, is that students graduating from high school enter university not knowing exactly what to choose and what they have chosen. Another issue, officials said, is that the academic curriculum does not prepare students well for the workplace. Maha al Kaabi, a volunteer at the Tahhadi Club and a student of business administration, said that gaining work experience should be part of the curriculum. "Now we are not required to have work experience as part of our studies," Ms al Kaabi said. "We do a two-month work placement, and usually in the last year. It is a little too late and is not enough. "During our research, we found that students have great expectations from the private sector in terms of salary and allowance. Students say that because of the inflation, when we graduate, we expect a certain amount of money. Public gives better salaries and has less hours of work." "And when it comes to the companies, we found there was little co-operation with public sector to raise the awareness of potential employees of the importance and opportunities of the private sector," she said. hhassan@thenational.ae