Signing up to the Private sector for a more robust national workforce

by Andrew Wingrove, Group Director - Portfolio Management

It’s commonly understood in the UAE that for some years now nationals have traditionally looked towards the public and semi-governmental sector for employment. The appeal is obvious – higher salaries, the perception of guaranteed security of employment, better holiday entitlement and a greater understanding of career paths.

But things are changing. Careers UAE 2019 has seen an increased interest in private sector employers as is evident by the numerous first-time participants from leading organisations including IBM, Cisco, Siemens and Etihad Airways; the private sector is definitely focusing on widening the opportunities for young Emiratis and are actively supporting the long-term goals of the country. There is also a growing recognition of the real potential of Emiratis, particularly those skilled in advanced technology as these talents are needed for the 4th industrial revolution.

Striking A Balance:

Now there’s even better news for those realising that striking a balance between Emirati employment in the public and private sectors can only be good for a sustainable workforce. The government’s recent move to improve private sector working conditions by matching the holiday entitlements of both, should attract more nationals to private enterprises and help build an integrated economy.  The government estimates that more than 30,000 jobs could be taken up by nationals in the private sector, which it hopes will play a greater role in the country’s economy and its innovation strategy.

At the start of the year, in a series of tweets, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai had said that during 2018, the Emiratization of jobs has reached 200 per cent, however there was a need to double efforts in 2019.

The Right Time:

Why is there increased focus on Emirati employment in the private sector now? Well because the maths no longer adds up. According to global strategists PwC 84% of working nationals are currently employed by the public sector- an economic model that is no longer fit for purpose. The UAE has made no secret of its determination to build a highly productive, knowledge-based economy – and for that it needs the risk-taking, competitive private sector to be engaged. With Emiratis in its workforce, the private sector is likely to become more committed and aligned to national priorities. 

The New Policy:

The newly released National Employment Policy points to major changes in the UAE workforce by 2031 with vital new sectors emerging and existing ones thriving. The policy estimates, that by the 2031 deadline some 610,000 Emiratis will be working in the public and private sectors. Efforts being made to strike the prescribed balance include equipping Emiratis with the skills required in the future labour market and promoting entrepreneurship.

Changing Mindsets:

Boosting the numbers of Emiratis in the private sector has required a change of mindset – and the signs are that this is gradually taking effect. Emiratis attending Careers UAE are digging deeper into what the private sector needs and what it can offer. This mind-set will be further honed when the government shortly issues its new policy related to self-employment. The government is also developing an online platform to connect the self-employed with private sector companies – fostering a mutually advantageous network. Entrepreneurship is gaining ground among Emiratis and a self-employment policy that advances the business fortunes of these nationals who ‘go private’ will have a significant economic development spur.

If Careers UAE 2019 will be remembered for anything, it will be as a benchmark to the balancing public-private sector shift and for promoting the latest technological advances which will impact the workforce of the not too distant future.


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