Emiratis can earn more in the private sector, says careers agency

The private sector can provide higher salaries for hard working Emiratis than in the public sector according to a local development group.

An Emirati student looking for a job during a career fair held at the Men’s Dubai College. A survey published this week by jobs website Bayt and YouGov showed most Emiratis still regard government jobs as more desirable. Paulo Vecina / The National
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ABU DHABI // The private sector can provide higher salaries for hard-working Emiratis than the public sector, a vocational organisation says.

The head of the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) said that as long as employees’ expectations were “clearly aligned with those of their employers”, they could excel in their chosen field.

“Aligning expectations is crucial for private-sector employers when recruiting UAE national job seekers, who tend to expect automatic promotion after a couple of years in a company,” said Essa Al Mulla, executive director of the ENDP.

The organisation aims to have Emiratis employed in the private sector. Traditionally, more opt for public-sector positions.

A survey published this week by jobs website Bayt and YouGov showed most Emiratis still regard government jobs as more desirable.

The survey showed 55 per cent of respondents believed government jobs attracted the highest proportion of Emirati talent in the UAE – a higher result than in any other Middle East and North African country studied.

And 48 per cent identified the UAE Government as an “extremely favourable” employer, while a further 20 per cent believed it to be “slightly favourable”.

Despite the attitude, national efforts are now focused on getting more Emiratis into private companies.

“Although the private sector may not be able to compete with the public sector on salary in the short term, it can provide Emiratis with a varied career and excellent experience in line with the international standards,” Mr Al Mulla said.

“In the long term, if the candidate works hard and applies him or herself, he or she can earn a larger salary than if employed by the Government.”

The overall perception of working for the Government or civil service is also positive, with only 6 per cent of the 1,018 respondents believing it to be the most stressful industry. Construction was highest at 30 per cent.

The call from ENDP comes ahead of a three-day recruitment show, Tawdheef, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from February 3 to 5.

A first-time participant will be the Sharaf Group, the Middle East electronics retailer, which has been working to recruit more Emiratis. Its branch in Fujairah is now solely staffed by Emiratis.

"When compared to the Government sector, you get a higher opportunity to grow and express yourself," said Maitha Al Harmoudi, senior executive of Emiratisation at Sharaf.

“In the Government sector you get limited promotions, whereas in the private sector, if you are good, you can be promoted very quickly.

“Sometimes people can be in the same position in the public sector for years but if you are driven you can advance in the private sector within six months.”

Ms Al Harmoudi said the benefits were not just financial.

“As well as the salary, people are looking for other opportunities. It is about how you can use your ideas. I don’t think you can express yourself in the same way in the public sector,” she said.

“I have noticed that I get a lot of opportunities and whenever we give an idea it is looked at and discussed further.

“I personally have always been very happy in the private sector and would love to continue working in it.”