UAE schools are aiming to recruit more graduates in teaching positions in order to meet rising Emiratisation targets.
One leading school group said Emiratis are mostly being hired in administrative and non-teaching roles, but efforts are being made to ensure more are leading lessons.
It is a different story with Arabic studies, particularly in Sharjah, where many Emiratis have been hired to teach the subject.
The Sharjah Private Education Authority said 85 Emirati teachers were now part of the private education sector after being trained since 2019. A majority of these teach Arabic, Islamic studies and social studies.
The goal is to train Emiratis in teaching and to support undergraduate and graduate students to take up education as a profession, the authority said.
An all-time high 92,000 citizens now work in the private sector, figures announced last month show, as private companies with 50 employees or more need to ensure that 6 per cent of their workforce is Emirati by the end of this year.
The UAE's Nafis programme was introduced in September 2021 with a mission to ensure 10 per cent of all jobs in the private sector were taken up by citizens by the end of 2026, as part of a major Emiratisation push.
Kirti Badlani, group human resources manager at Ambassador Schools, which operates three schools in the UAE, said Emiratisation was initially a challenge but that they are now on track to hit the target.
“It was a bit challenging initially when it had picked up, but I think we have been able to do pretty well,” Ms Badlani told The National.
“Predominantly, most of our Emirati colleagues are in the administration department because, when we started, we were looking more at the administration roles.”
She said they need to consider the criteria set by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority – Dubai's private education regulator – while hiring for teaching positions and are optimistic about hiring Emirati candidates in Arabic or IT teaching roles.
“We have two Emirati teachers and are looking for Emiratis to teach Arabic,” Ms Badlani said.
“We are considering fresh graduates. We are looking at hiring a couple of them in the upcoming months to teach Arabic.
“We are using Nafis for recruiting Emiratis but we wouldn't hesitate to go to the university and select freshly graduated teachers.”
Nafis is a federal government programme that provides a monthly salary support of a maximum of Dh7,000 to Emiratis who earn up to Dh30,000 a month. It also covers child allowance and pension contributions.
From January 1 last year private companies with more than 50 employees had to ensure that 2 per cent of staff members were Emirati. This figure rose to 4 per cent by the end of last year, will rise to 6 per cent this year and 8 per cent next year, with the ultimate goal of hitting a 10 per cent target by the end of 2026.
Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal at Delhi Private School Dubai, said: “We fully intend to meet our next target. I think the challenge was only in starting this journey.”
John Mayes, chief people officer at Gems Education, added: “I think there is a much stronger focus on Emiratisation than there ever has been. We have a strong alignment to that agenda.
“We are investing and we continue to be on track, as we've continually planned as a consequence of how the framework was introduced.
“The regulations are set by the respective authorities and there are minimum standards, the minimum qualifications to teach in the UAE. Graduates need to meet those standards if they are in teaching roles.
“We continue to look at graduates for teaching roles where they meet the associated criteria. We also look for graduates across the organisation for non-teaching roles, where we have less requirements to meet.
“We don't have a requirement to meet government mandated regulations, for example, in non-teaching roles in the corporate office or non-teaching roles in the schools.
“The population supply of qualified candidates for teaching roles of Emirati nationality, are fewer relative to the overall demand in the region at the moment.”
The school group hires Emiratis through open days, the Nafis platform and by building partnerships with universities.
Sharifa Ali Sulaiman, 25, an Emirati, acquired a diploma in special needs after completing her high school studies and is now employed as a learning support assistant at Ambassador International Academy in Dubai.
She said she chose to work in education because she wanted to work with children and help the community.
“I love children and I can be with them and support them,” Ms Sulaiman said.
She also said she is keen to encourage other Emiratis to take up the profession.
“I want to take it step by step so I can reach a higher level,” she added.
“I tell others this is something so good for you and for all the community.”