Constant review needed to make Emiratisation a success

Over the years, the government has taken several steps to make the private sector more attractive for nationals.

By Mustafa Al Zarooni

Published: Wed 11 Sep 2019, 8:45 PM

Last updated: Wed 11 Sep 2019, 10:47 PM

It was in the eighties the UAE government launched the Emiratisation programme to encourage more citizens to join the private sector. Three decades later, the programme remains a focus area for the government and is geared to boost employment opportunities for Emiratis. It is, therefore, disheartening to read of the hardships Emiratis face while looking for jobs.
Over the years, the government has taken several steps to make the private sector more attractive for nationals. For instance, this year the number of holidays for the private sector were made consistent with the public entities. However, there are still a few grey areas that need to be reviewed by federal and local authorities to improve the prospects of employment for Emiratis in the public as well as in the private sector.
In government departments, for instance, we often see citizens only at the top of the pyramid and not in other positions. Private firms, on the other hand, get few privileges if they hire locals, and there are no laws that can push the private sector to offer more opportunities to Emiratis.
Hence, some laws and processes need to be reviewed. Many haven't kept pace with the dynamic private sector, or do not consider aspects, such as the social insurance law. The social insurance cover offers retirement pensions and health insurance benefits to citizens working in the public sector. The private sector, in contrast, tries to compensate for these through high salaries and many firms avoid hiring Emiratis. Moreover, some government and private entities are insisting that young men finish their national service before joining them. The reason: companies are shying away from paying young men their benefits when they are on the company rolls. However, when young men finish the service and look for jobs, which is usually in their early 30s, they face stiff competition from the younger lot as companies prefer fresh graduates.
The success of programmes like Emiratisation depends on the ability of authorities to constantly review the processes, assess grey areas, find and resolve problems faced by Emiratis. They must engage with the private sector more to understand why firms do not hire more locals. This will go a long way to make Emiratisation a success.

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