A competitive job market, word-of-mouth and challenging training programmes have spurred a growing interest in the private sector, recruiters said on the opening day of the Tawdheef career fair.
“Two years ago, when employees would ask if we were private or government, as soon as they heard ‘private’, they would say, ‘thank you, our apologies’ and they’d pass by,” said Hamed Al Qasemi, a senior recruitment officer at the security systems company Etimad Holding. “Now people have started to see the benefits of the private sector. Last year we got 3,000 CVs.”
An estimated 7,000 Emiratis attended the first day of Tawdheef career fair at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on Monday. With more than 90 private companies and public sector departments participating this year, it is one of the largest annual events on the job hunter’s calendar. Some attendees were fresh graduates, but hundreds had been job hunting for years.
To attract young Emiratis, private companies offer competitive training programmes open to high school graduates.
“The strategy has changed because companies are now looking to build candidates from the bottom,” said Mr Al Qasemi.
“For example, this year we had quite a few vacancies and mostly we’re looking for high school graduates. We’re looking for loyal people. We‘re trying to motivate people and give them the skills they need. I’m going to encourage employers to do more by giving them training and incentives from the beginning.”
Private sector areas are attracting growing interest. Private insurance is now attracting growing interest. Onood Al Marzooqi, an assistant human resources manager at Orient Insurance, said jobseekers are now “more open minded, they are more eager to work and willing to learn new things.”
The World Bank reports that the country’s total unemployment rate in 2014 was 4 per cent. Available data on the federal unemployment rate of Emiratis is several years old, but in December, FNC members said the most current national figure for Emirati unemployment from 2011 was 13 per cent.
Last year, a total of 14,881 job seekers attended the 12,000 square metre fair, with 48 per cent coming from outside Abu Dhabi emirate.
In December, the Federal National Council (FNC) heard how "thousands" of Emiratis graduates are unable to find employment, an issue raised by Ras Al Khaimah representative Salem Al Shehhi. Members discussed concerns about foreign labour in government jobs that could be filled by Emiratis and delays in marriage caused by unemployment.