In the last decades, rapid development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has attracted numerous immigrants, who currently dominate the country’s labor markets (Ahmed, 2005). UAE’s private sector workforce consists of 98 percent expatriate workers. Similarly, statistics indicate that the public sector workforce comprises 90 percent expatriates. As illustrated by these statistics, Emirati nationals have been left with few remaining jobs, thus, the increase in the number of unemployed Emirati nationals (Morada, 2002). To solve these challenges, the United Arab Emirate government launched a program called Emiratisation aimed at increasing the number of employed citizens in public and private sectors (Ahmed, 2005). Emiratisation programs have been on course for more than a decade, and their positive impacts can be observed in the public sector. Nevertheless, the private sector participation in the program is still considered minimal with only a 0.34 percent workforce (McCoy, 2004). To date, the program has resulted in several economic, social, and political benefits.
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Through Emiratisation programs, the UAE government has adopted the use of working visas by all foreign workers. Quota and financial restrictions are placed on the employment of expatriate workers, depending on their skills and professions. In so doing, the government puts in place the right policies and strategies aimed at encouraging Emirati nationals. In addition, it makes them achieve competency in the targeted professions and skilled jobs (Nelson & Yang, 2005).
Though most citizens in the United Arab Emirates are well educated, they are marred with numerous challenges in securing sustainable jobs. Therefore, Emiratisation is viewed as an important economic tool to current and future UAE’s economic plans. Through this plan, the government plans to interrelate with the chief investors in the country to persuade them to absorb the Emirati graduates, whose numbers increase yearly. Currently, it is estimated that the annual number of Emirati job seekers ranges from 12,000 to 13,000 individuals (Balakrishnan & Jayashree, 2011). Among these jobseekers, 80 percent comprised of female jobseekers, despite their high holding qualifications.
In the year 2005, the Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council (ADTC) was set up by the UAE president to overlook the countries future workforce efficiency and provision of sustainable employment opportunities to all Emiratis nationals (Ferreira, 2008). Since its inception, ADTC has provided Emiratis with relevant career-related services such as job assessments, professional, career guidance, and vocational training. Before the end of 2005, 4211 Emirati jobseekers had passed through the system effectively in various public and private sectors. In conjunction with Mubadala Development Company and the Institute of Applied Technology, ADTC aims at achieving 50 percent Emiratisation of Emiratis strata staff in the aerostructures manufacturing industry by 2012 (Ferreira, 2008). ADTC’s database stores record of most unemployed country’s jobseekers, though no one is not forced to register with the group. By analyzing their databases, one can notice that 80 percent of all enrolled members are fresh graduates and that 90 percent have experience of fewer than 8 years. Similarly, it is easy to note that the majority of the members are female jobseekers. Experts claim that these statistics represent the demographics of the country’s citizens, as such the restrictions faced by women all over GCC countries.
In the recent past, the United Arab Emirates’ annual employment growth rate stood at 7.9 percent. In the year 2005, the countries unemployment rate stood at 12.6 percent, with 19.8 percent females and 8.9 percent males (Davidson, 2009). Thus, without government intervention, the figures are expected to double in the next few decades.
Although the records indicate that the finance and insurance sectors employed fewer Emirati nationals than their targets, in the year 2010, reports indicated that the sectors were best rated for embracing Emiratisation (Khondker, 2011). In the same year, it was noted that the Emiratisation rate in the insurance sector had not exceeded 6.5 percent in the last 10 years. Similar reports indicate that less than 40 currency transfer companies employ Emirati’s nationals. In the same year, the total Emiratisation dropped to 5.89 percent in the insurance sector compared to 6.01 percent in the year 2008.
In the year 2011, President Sheikh Khalifa offered subsidies to private companies to encourage them to absorb the unemployed Emirati citizens into their workforce (Khondker, 2011). The subsidies are aimed at increasing the number of employed citizens in the public and private sectors. Similarly, the foundation helps them seize job opportunities and secure required funds in the private sector like never before. Experts assert that this approach is one of the best ways of ensuring that Emiratisation objectives are met, and in the end eradicate excuses of Emiratis nationals not being hired in the private sector (Raj, 2004). As a result, both Emirati jobseekers and employer are advised to make use of the scheme, as the financial benefits offered by the program offers the Emiratis full training programs enabling them to be competent in the world markets. Despite the government intervention, there are still numerous challenges facing Emiratisation in the private sector such as poor career path and support, lack of awareness of the nature of work done in the private sector, and non-matching skills (Khondker, 2011).
To ensure that the country meets its Emirisation’s goals and objectives, both public and the private sectors need to accommodate the ever-increasing number of Emirati graduates in their workforce. However, in the predominant globalized market, private and public organizations rely on expatriate staff to maintain their quality and efficiency (Yang, 2006). Thus, to avoid disparity between the expatriates and the Emirati nationals’ job employment opportunities, stakeholders should ensure that Emirati nationals are accommodated in their workforce. With proper management, researches indicate that Emiratis can equally manage most positions and responsibilities in the workforce without compromising on the company’s quality or efficiency.
To make the program more effective, thorough education and training should be provided. United Arab Emirates universities need to teach their undergraduate students through updated curriculums that meet both the international standards and the industries requirements. In addition, the ministry of education should consult with the industries committees to determine the current and future skills or requirements needed in the current markets. Similarly, the local students and trainees need to be trained under the supervision of the expatriate managers to enhance their skills and knowledge in holding subsequent key positions. Once the local stakeholders have verified that the Emirati students are qualified, they should allow them into their mainstream labor market. In doing so, Emiratisation targets will be realized, as set out in the Abu Dhabi economic vision 2030 plan (Ferreira, 2008). Similarly, by encouraging academic and personal success to the young Emirati individuals, the country will not only ensure that it meets its plans but will also fulfill the workforce requirements for the future.
Ahmed, O. S. (2005). Emiratisation of PRO positions. Dubai, U.A.E.: CLMRI.
Balakrishnan, M. S., & Jayashree, P. (2011). Etihad contributing to the UAE vision through emiratisation. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Davidson, C. M. (2009). Abu Dhabi: oil and beyond. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ferreira, R. (2008). The Abu Dhabi economic vision 2030. Abu Dhabi: Dept. of Planning and Economy in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development and the General Secretariat of the Executive Council.
Khondker, H. H. (2011). Social change in the United Arab Emirates challenges of migration and “emiratisation”. Singapore: Middle East Institute.
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McCoy, L. (2004). United Arab Emirates. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers.
Morada, H. B. (2002). Work and work conditions of the UAE Nationals in the local government agencies and their perceptions on Emiratisation policies. Dubai, UAE: Tanmia, Centre for Labour Market Research & Information.
Nelson, C., & Yang, G. (2005). Emiratisation in the insurance sector: experiences and challenges. Dubai: CLMRI.
Raj, J. (2004). Emiratisation in the banking sector: factors influencing success and failure. Dubai, UAE: Tanmia, Centre for Labour Market Research & Information.
Yang, G. (2006). Emiratisation in the trade sector: current situations and ways forward. Dubai, UAE: Tanmia, the National Human Resource Development & Employment Authority.