The private sector is expected to shift focus to hiring Emiratis in senior leadership roles rather than relatively junior administration roles, a group of senior recruiters said.
Quality and not quantity was the key to Emiratisation of the future, a gathering of private sector firms organised heard on Monday.
The shift is part of broader plans announced earlier this year by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to encourage the private sector to employ Emiratis in management and technical positions.
“The purpose of Emiratisation is to have skilled UAE nationals in the private sector and the ministry wants to ensure that it’s not just filling up a quota,” said Ghassan Yusuf, regional talent and performance manager at PwC.
“What used to happen in the past is that some private companies took the easy route by hiring public relationship officers, administrative staff or university students on long-term internships.
"But with the point system a company is better off hiring a chief executive instead of several junior staff. The idea is to develop, train and teach UAE nationals going forward.”
At an event organised for top technology, automotive, oil and gas companies by PwC about ‘Emiratisation and the UAE's Vision 2021,’ experts said the main thrust was encouraging a wider scale adoption of a point system that provides incentives in government and visa fees for recruiting, providing skill training and retaining Emiratis in more high-skilled jobs.
This system rewards organisations committed to the growth of Emiratis with benefits in government fees.
The banking sector previously followed a system of percentages or quotas of recruitment of locals. Following changes announced by the ministry earlier this year, banks now earn points based on senior positions filled and training given to Emiratis.
Other private sector companies in the country could adopt a similar route, experts said.
Speakers also touched on the difference between government-mandated recruitment of nationals in other GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia and the incentive scheme adopted by the UAE.
Tax, legal and audit consultancy PwC has more than 75 UAE nationals on its rolls and more than 85 nationalities in the Dubai office itself which helps it qualify for the highest category resulting in reduced work permit charges.
“We make savings in millions of dollars just in terms of visa costs because of the number of employees we hire every year,” Mr Yusuf said, adding that hiring UAE nationals also helped due to knowledge of the local law, customs and access to government entities.
More companies are being encouraged to be part of the Tawteen Gate system, a Ministry of Human Resources electronic portal to link companies advertising jobs and vacancies with a database of qualified Emirati job seekers. The portal ensures that eligible Emiratis are given priority before the job is opened up for non-Emiratis.
Past studies have shown that long working hours, lower pension plans, fewer vacation days and overseas travel are some reasons Emiratis choose public sector jobs over the private sector.
Awareness was also required about the availability of jobs after graduation, said Suzanne Gandy, director, talent management Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.
“A lot of candidates coming forward for our graduate programme tend to have international affairs or politics as their degrees. While these are useful degrees, the skill sets we are looking for are core skills underpinning the business like finance and IT. We do get a number from human resources and some for marketing but finance and IT are two areas that we have particularly struggled to hire,” she said.
The DMCC runs a year-long graduate programme for UAE nationals, now in its second year, that prepares them for careers in commodities trade, marketing and working in the free zone.
“So we have gone back to the universities and made them aware they should make more effort to advertise to students that if they go into these particular areas, they will be well sought after in the private sector.”