The Emiratisation Minister said the UAE labour market was "on the verge of fundamental change" as a government drive to bolster the local workforce in the private sector gathers pace.
Abdulrahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, held talks with leading recruitment agencies to emphasise the positive role Emiratis can play in private companies.
By January 1, private companies with more than 50 employees must ensure 2 per cent of their skilled jobs are filled by Emiratis as part of a wider effort to boost numbers of UAE citizens to 10 per cent of the workforce within four years.
Employers that fail to reach the 2 per cent target by the end of the year will have to pay a Dh72,000 fine ($19,602) in January for each Emirati worker they fail to hire, the equivalent to Dh6,000 for each month of this year.
The Nafis scheme was set up to ensure those key targets are met.
Dr Al Awar met senior officials from 66 companies, including those offering temporary employment and labour supply services.
“The labour market in the UAE is entering a new phase that focuses on the central role of national human capital within the private sector," the minister said.
"The Emirati skilled employees, who constitute most Emirati employees registered within the ministry’s system, are proving their positive effects on the economy.
"We are on the verge of fundamental changes in the country's labour market in line with increasing the participation of citizens and improving the competitiveness of the local business environment.
"This comes is in light of the support provided by Nafis programme for Emirati cadres and private sector establishments, along with the Ministry's follow-up to implement regulating legislation and resolutions aimed at increasing the participation of citizens in the private sector."
During the meeting, the ministry underlined the private sector's importance to the country's economic development.
Benefits and support packages for companies which comply with Emiratisation goals were discussed.
Awards for companies backing Emiratisation plans
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Presidential Court and chairman of the Board of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, on Monday launched the first phase of the Nafis Award for 2022-23.
The accolade aims to recognise private sector establishments that have excelled in hiring UAE citizens and also honours outstanding Emiratis in the sector.
Sheikh Mansour spoke of the progress being made in encouraging more Emiratis to join the private sector and supporting companies to integrate citizens into places of work.
Dr Al Awar said the awards would aid efforts to increase the number of Emiratis working in the private sector.
“This award reflects the UAE leadership’s support for the success of Emiratisation policies and another step forward to boost the Emiratisation efforts in the private sector," he said.
"The engagement of the private sector with the Nafis and Emiratisation file is vital for the development journey of the UAE.
“The award will encourage companies to increase Emiratisation rates, and on the other hand, it encourages UAE nationals to join the private sector and improve their skills and competence and contribute to consolidating the national economy.”