Nearly two thirds of Emirati graduates interested in joining private sector

PwC Middle East surveys 500 citizens working in the public and private sectors

Semi-government owned companies such as Strata, which makes aircraft parts, are major employers of Emiratis. The government wants more privately-owned companies to hire Emiratis. Photo: Mubadala
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The majority of Emirati graduates have expressed an interest in joining the UAE private sector, a new survey has found.

PwC Middle East's first 2023 Emiratisation survey found that while interest in joining the private sector is strong among the younger Emirati generation (61 per cent interested), two thirds of those currently working in private companies are considering a return to the public sector.

The survey, called "The Retention Riddle: How to keep Emirati talent in the private sector", looked at how the UAE is delivering on the plan to boost Emirati representation in the private-sector workforce.

It polled 500 citizens working in the public and private sectors, as well as new graduates entering the workplace.

Retention is key

One of the main themes to emerge from the survey was that private-sector companies must do more to retain Emirati talent.

It also found that 50 per cent of Emiratis employed in the private sector were not as satisfied with their compensation and benefits packages compared with those employed in the public sector.

“Collectively, we all must play a leading role in helping the UAE achieve its shared vision and continue building a sustainable, prosperous economic future," said Khaled bin Braik, Emiratisation Programme leader at PwC Middle East.

"The time has come for us to work together to deliver the agenda of this ambitious nation.”

The survey found that more than 80 per cent are happy with their current learning and development opportunities, and about two thirds can see a clear path for career progression.

Under current Emiratisation targets, private sector employers in the UAE with at least 50 employees must ensure 3 per cent of their workforce is made up of Emiratis by July 7, under an extended deadline announced this week.

By the end of the year, private sector companies are expected to meet a 4 per cent target.

The Emirati employment rate will increase to 6 per cent in 2024, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026 – with an increase of 1 per cent every six months.

The Emiratisation drive targets having 75,000 citizens working in the private sector by the end of 2026.

Various measures have been introduced to help companies meet their targets, such as increasing skill levels, incentives to employers and dedicated investments.

Enabling mobility within a company

Based on PwC’s research, the survey outlines seven considerations to help retain citizens in the private sector.

It says companies should make Emiratisation a core aspect of their employee strategy and establish employing UAE citizens as a key aspect of the organisational brand and identity.

It also suggested establishing clear paths for recruiting UAE citizens, such as creating links with universities to co-develop curricula in line with relevant future skills and holding awareness sessions and career fairs at schools and universities.

Companies can create skill-creation and reskilling opportunities for Emiratis or leadership development, secondment and rotation programmes.

It also suggested enabling Emiratis' ability to move within the organisation.

PWC in the survey also suggested offering fast-track career progression for employed Emiratis, such as accelerated pathways to leadership positions ,or providing employees with an opportunity to undertake entrepreneurial ventures within the boundaries of the company.

Another suggestion was to offer rewards and recognition programmes to increase private-sector competitiveness. This could include personalised reward strategies and compensation and benefits packages tailored to citizens’ particular requirements.

It also said companies should introduce technology and data analytics to help track Emiratisation efforts and performance.

Updated: June 15, 2023, 3:10 PM