How UAE's new visa reforms make job market more competitive

Changes in the residency permit to reduce job-hopping, improve quality of talent


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 19 Apr 2022, 4:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Apr 2022, 10:36 PM

The UAE's latest visa reforms will improve the quality of hires, reduce job-hopping, and make the employment sector more competitive.

The changes also make it easier for job-seekers to land a job within the country, say senior officials of the world's leading recruitment agencies.

They noted that 2022 is a year where there is an absolute all-out war for talent as organisations increasingly seek to increase their talent density and boost productivity in the post-pandemic world.

The UAE Cabinet on Monday approved major improvements to its residency system and introduced a new five-year Green Visa.

The industry executives praised the UAE for expediting the reforms following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which augurs well for job-seekers, employers, residents and visitors.

Sarah Dixon. Photo: Supplied
Sarah Dixon. Photo: Supplied

Sarah Dixon, managing director, Hays, expects a positive impact from the perspective of availability and quality of the talent with the introduction of new reforms.

"It should improve the speed and quality of hires in the UAE. These reforms will also make the local job market more competitive, which is good. We need to bring in stronger talent to raise the overall level of the talent pool and help upskill others in existing teams," said Dixon.

She added that the latest visa reforms – the largest ever announced by the country – should result in an influx of talented and highly skilled workers.

"More expats will come over and be based here while seeking employment – versus accepting the first offer on the table just to get a foot in the door - then not being completely happy and thereby leaving that job within the first 6 months. So, overall this could mean less' job hopping' and better success rates for both employers and employees," said Hays managing director for the Gulf region.

Easier to get jobs when within the UAE

Vijay Gandhi. Photo: Supplied
Vijay Gandhi. Photo: Supplied

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Korn Ferry, the new labour reforms will make UAE the destination of choice amongst expatriates and will result in an influx of specialised skills in the workforce which will improve the supply of skilled talent in the labour market.

"The new long-term residence law helps address a critical shortage of people with technology skills. The new era of work is one of scarcity in abundance: there are plenty of people, but not enough with the skills their organisations will need to survive. The new laws open up the labour market and allow companies to compete for the best and brightest in every field," added Gandhi.

Sarah Dixon added that employers are often hesitant to hire from abroad, considering the potential delays and challenges associated with candidate relocation; hence, the UAE and the company and the job itself may be seen as "one of" the candidate's options versus their priority.

"However, if job seekers are already settled on the ground, and showing a commitment to the UAE from the start of the application process, then they should find it easier to secure opportunities. The UAE continues to reduce 'red tape' with the extension of tourist visas to 60 days as well as a job seeking a visa. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has showcased its ability to make decisions quickly and established itself as a destination of choice for global talent across industries," said Sarah Dixon.

She hoped that these newly-introduced changes will open up a wider talent pool to businesses across the region by mitigating risk to those considering relocating. "We can only see this as a positive step forward in the global battle for top talent."


Putting down roots for a longer period

Anjali Samuel. Photo: Supplied
Anjali Samuel. Photo: Supplied

Anjali Samuel, managing partner, Mindfield Resources, said flexible residency options with coverage for family and extended family will definitely attract people to not only set up a base but look at putting down their roots for a longer period.

"The Cabinet's approval of the executive regulations is a strong indication that the UAE is not only open to attracting, retaining global talents and skilled workers but also giving a warm welcome for people to be less transient and more permanent in UAE. We already saw a major influx of businesses from different parts of the world shifting their base to the UAE as people were majorly impressed with the country's handling of Covid19. The reforms will only further sweeten the pot for global talent," she added.

Samuel added that the new system of entry and multiple options for residency are indicative of an overarching plan to meaningfully engage “skilled professionals” from all over the globe and retain the existing expatriate.

“The multiple options available for investors/ entrepreneurs/starts ups and skilled professionals will boost the employment as well increase the talent density in the country. It has also made it highly attractive for technology-led organisations to bring in highly-skilled talent. Flexible residency options with coverage for family and extended family will definitely attract people to not only set up base but look at putting down their roots for a longer period. It opens up a bigger talent pool for talent acquisition and will lead to increased talent density. Which I think is what the nation is striving for ..a higher talent density in the workforce. All these factors together will result in a more productive and prosperous economy for the UAE,” said Mindfield Resources managing director.

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