International job opportunities will draw Emiratis to private sector

Students at an Emirati youth forum ranked jobs abroad as their first consideration, followed by salary packages and role models.

Emirati role model Anas Bukhask, co-founder of Adhaff football centres, said he was surprised local youth were more interested in working abroad than they were in salaries and packages. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National
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ABU DHABI // Young Emiratis say international job opportunities would be an incentive to attract them to the private sector.

Salary packages are only the second priority when considering the private sector, with role models the third most influential factor. Friends and family working within the sector is the least important consideration.

About 200 students, male and female, gave their views in a live poll at a youth forum on Sunday organised by Tawdheef, the Emirati careers and recruitment organisation.

The poll reflected a shift towards the private sector, with as many young people wishing to become entrepreneurs as to work in the public sector. Of the four million people who work in the private sector only about 20,000 are Emirati, from a working-age population of about 225,000.

The results of the poll are “great information for employers to understand”, said the moderator of the event, AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi, managing director of a consultancy that helps companies with Emiratisation. “I was surprised by the fact people want opportunities to work abroad.”

He said a desire to become an entrepreneur was a trend. “There is the perception that Emiratis are only open to government work but this shows that not only are they are open to more than that, but they’re open to international opportunities, which is a great message for employers.”

Anas Bukhash, 32, was one of the Emirati role models used to inspire the students towards the private sector. A co-founder of Adhaaf football centres, which launched in 2009 with two indoor facilities and now has 17, Mr Bukhash said: “What surprised me was that I thought packages, the salaries and benefits, would be the leading incentive for going to the private sector, but it was going abroad. I thought most people were comfortable staying here.”

He said hearing stories such as his was important for Emirati youth.

“I could bring Bill Gates here and, yes, they’d be inspired, but they need to hear it from someone they can relate to, from their own culture.”

Latifa Al Mansoori, 20, a second-year finance student at Zayed University, said the event had opened her eyes to the opportunities in the private sector and hearing such success stories from Emirati role models was vital for her peers.

"This has helped me as it made me ask myself many questions that led to other ideas and has made me think more about the private sector. They say it's more challenging and you will benefit more because there are many nationalities and they all do their bit to serve the company and make it a success. It made me realise the private sector could give me more experience," she said.

Fatima Al Hammadi, 21, who recently graduated from Zayed University with a degree in finance, said: “I wanted some advice on where to go. I’m a bit lost. I don’t know whether to head to the private or public sector but this has given me thoughts to go towards the private sector. It will give you the self-development you need.”

More role models such as Mr Bukhash were needed to help Emirati youth plot their career paths, she said.

“We need these to make it more accessible to go to the private sector. I know many people in the government sector but if they heard these kind of talks, they would be more inspired to go to the private sector and develop themselves.”