Emiratis urged to seek work in private sector

Government looks to increase Emiratisation of the private sector as it warns the public sector is reaching saturation point.

DUBAI // Emiratis were urged yesterday to seek jobs in the private sector as the public sector reaches saturation point.

The federal Government employed only 1,500 new Emirati staff last year. Now it hopes the private sector can help to tackle the 20.8 per cent unemployment rate among nationals.

"The private sector is a rich sector with many opportunities which Emiratis need to take advantage of and there are many success stories for Emiratis in this sector," said Humaid bin Deemas, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs at the Ministry of Labour.

"Moreover, Emiratis need to understand that the public sector can no longer accommodate more employees."

Emiratis account for only 20,000 of the four million workers in the private sector, but a new initiative, Absher, aims to reduce unemployment by improving this figure.

"The gap in salaries and working hours between the two sectors is the main challenge which faces Emiratisation of the private sector and part of the new initiative is to reduce this gap," said Mr bin Deemas.

The initiative, which is supervised by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and under direct supervision from the President, Sheikh Khalifa, is based on four main pillars: job creation, training the Emirati workforce, encouraging nationals to join the private sector and launching strategic partnerships with the private sector and government agencies.

One of its core targets is to create 20,000 jobs for Emiratis in the next five years. Sixteen government entities have pledged support to the initiative, in addition to a number of semi-government entities such as Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company, and a number of private companies.

Absher also includes a privilege programme supervised by the Ministry of Labour for Emiratis working in the private sector. So far, 600 Emiratis have enrolled.

Under the programme Emiratis in the private sector are granted priority in the marriage and housing funds and qualify for other incentives including a Dh500 monthly petrol allowance from Enoc, extra baggage allowance at selected airlines and discounts at car showrooms and insurance companies.

Eisa Al Mulla, executive director of the Emirates Nationals Development programme, said Absher would complement all previous efforts to Emiratise the private sector.

"It has come to systemise the scattered Emiratisation efforts across the Emirates," he said. "What makes this initiative distinctive are two things, first that it is a lively approach as it will have a lively interaction with the labour markets and its demands, but more importantly that it is under direct supervision of his highness Sheikh Khalifa."

The launch of the initiative, Absher, came a week after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced that 2013 would be the year of Emiratisation.

"The year 2013 will be a year of creating jobs for UAE nationals, that will be a national priority for which all efforts must unite," he said.

The creation of 5,000 jobs was promised last week as part of a Dh330 billion injection into the Abu Dhabi economy over five years.

Abu Dhabi's labour force was 1.4 million in 2011. Emiratis account for a little under 10 per cent of this - 132,000. The Emirate's main employment sectors are public administration, defence and social security, which accounted for almost a quarter of the total labour force in 2011 and provide jobs for six out of every 10 employed Emiratis.