Emiratisation drive needs full support of nationals

DUBAI — Dubai’s phenomenal economic growth, which made an indelible impression on the global community, has been like a driving force for the emirate to further promote its national human resource programme. But as the cliche goes by, it always takes two to tango.

By Criselda E. Diala

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Published: Sat 17 Feb 2007, 8:50 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:33 AM

And for a nationalisation programme to succeed, there is a need for unwavering commitment of both the country and the locals themselves, said Adnan Kazim, Vice-President of Pakistan operations of Emirates airline and a proud product of the Emirates Group's National Recruitment and Development Programme (NRDP), in an interview.

“If a company recruits UAE nationals just for the sake of fulfilling the obligation but eventually leaves them to fend for themselves, then their objectives would not be met,” he added.

Like most of the Emirates nationals who have gone through rigorous and extensive training of the NRDP, Kazim has literally risen to the rank in 15 years. After completing his Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from the Al Ain University, he joined Emirates as a Management Trainee in April 1992.

Following a series of trainings that covered different aspects of aviation from soft skills to technical courses, he was posted to various countries like India, United Kingdom, Greece, Yemen, East Africa, Egypt, Switzerland, Austria, and Pakistan ‘to get a better perspective' of the company's operating procedures.

“People should grow in a company and this cannot be achieved overnight. There should be a long-term strategic plan that will include training and job assignment, which should be provided by the company. But at the end of the day, of course, it is the person himself who will carry things forward,” he explained.

Kazim said a person's attitude, or the way he handles challenges, would still be the key to his success. “You cannot just say ‘I want to be a manager and sit in a chair’. There should be a positive and constructive way of looking at things because this will reflect approach of not just an individual but of the whole country. By being dedicated and hardworking, we somehow give back something good to our country and our family. It is like a national responsibility,” he added.

Abdulaziz Al Ali, Executive Vice-President, Human Resources Department of the Emirates Group, said their company spends around Dh65 million every year for recruitment, training and development of UAE nationals.

“We have a dedicated department for national recruitment and development, which we have started about 12 years ago because we had made a conscious decision to have it as an integral part of our organisation. We see the nationalisation programme more than just an obligation and as a commitment and it is in line with what Dubai wants to be,” he said.

The Emirates Group's NRDP started out with a target of recruiting 200 nationals annually but in 2006, they increased the figure to 500 per year. “This is only for inexperienced applicants or those who are fresh out from high school or the university with a bachelor's degree or a higher diploma. Outside this programme, we recruit experienced locals or what we call ‘direct-entry nationals’ who already have professional exposure. Recruitment in both categories is processed in the same way,” Al Ali said.

He said they separated the programmes of the experienced from that of the inexperienced because they wanted to train the ‘raw material’ according to a specific module that they had designed based on the company's requirements.

"Once they are recruited in the programme, the locals get free training as 100 per cent of its expenses are paid by the company. They also receive regular salaries and corresponding benefits while studying,” he added.

Masooma Hassan, Manager of the Group's NRDP, said they have various programmes for graduates and school level students which range from cadet pilot/engineering and cabin crew to hotel management. Except for the cadet pilot programme, all the other programmes are in-house projects. “The programmes are geared towards equipping the Emiratis with the right skills. The duration of the programmes varies but most of the participants finish their training within 18 months. About 80 per cent of the training programme is during the job,” she said.

Al Ali further explained that it is only on account of subjecting students to on-the-job training that they get a better understanding of what work-ethics is. “It helps them to be ethical. We recruit nationals based on their attitude and behaviour. We don't care if they're not competent in speaking English because we can teach them this language. What is important is their personality and dedication to learning,” he said.

The VP executive also mentioned that the NRDP does not limit the trained professionals within the confines of Emirates Group if they feel a need to leave the organisation. “A lot of people have a tendency to join Emirates for two to three years and when they become marketable, they leave for another company. We don't really mind because their move is still for the interest of the country and the UAE nationals in general. There would still be a lot of new breed of young UAE nationals whom we can train,” he said.

For Kazim, however, being stationed in Pakistan as the sole Emirati working in a UAE-based company makes him feel like an ambassador of his country. “When stationed abroad, you yourself become the example of what UAE is and what it has become,” he concluded.

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