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Emiratisation Employer Trends and Challenges - Navigating the Path to Workforce Nationalization

Emiratisation has been a primary focus for the nation's government in recent years, aiming to increase Emirati participation in the workforce, reduce dependency on foreign workers, and promote long-term economic growth. While Emiratisation has made significant progress, companies must note important trends and challenges to ensure they can successfully meet their quotas.


Increasing Emirati Workforce Participation

There has been a steady rise in Emiratis taking part in the workforce. The government has launched several programs, including mandatory Emiratisation quotas, incentives for companies hiring Emiratis, and vocational training programs. As a direct result, more Emiratis have entered job markets, particularly in banking, finance, government, and education. Two major trends have attracted focus:

  1. Focus on Private Sector Engagement: 

Historically, Emiratization efforts have been primarily focused on the public sector; however, there is a growing recognition that there is a need to engage the private sector more actively in achieving its goals. To do this, the government has introduced preferential treatment in government contracts to encourage private sector firms to prioritize hiring and developing Emirati candidates. Emphasizing Emiratization in the private sector increases employment opportunities for Emirati citizens, contributes to their professional development, increases their representation in various industries, and empowers them to play a bigger role in the country's economic landscape. 

  1. Skills Development and Education: 

The government has recognized the important role of skills development in preparing Emiratis for employment, further ensuring their competitiveness in the job market. Substantial investments in educational initiatives. By forging partnerships with universities and vocational training centers, they aim to ensure that the education provided is aligned with industry needs and facilitates a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace.

Challenges & Solutions

  1. Skills Mismatch: 

While the government has significantly improved education and skills development, a skills mismatch between Emirati job seekers and industry requirements persists. 

This arises because some industries require highly specialized expertise or technical skills that may not be adequately covered in current educational programs. This is particularly true in rapidly evolving technology, engineering, finance, and healthcare sectors. While general education provides a solid foundation, specific knowledge and practical experience are necessary to excel in these industries. Solving this problem requires targeted training programs and a collaborative approach between educational institutions and employers. Recognizing the skills gap, the government has actively fostered partnerships between universities, vocational training centers, and private sector companies. Together, they aim to bridge the gap by designing specialized training programs that align with industry needs. By addressing the skills mismatch, the UAE can unlock the full potential of its talented workforce, promote Emirati representation in specialized roles, and further diversify its economy.

  1. Salary Expectations and Career Progression: 

Like job seekers worldwide, Emiratis have salary expectations based on education, experience, and market conditions. However, some industries may be perceived as offering lower salaries than others, leading to a reluctance to pursue careers in those sectors. 

Employers need to take active measures to address the concerns by offering competitive salaries that align with their expectations and reflect the value and importance of the roles within the industry. Companies should conduct market research and benchmark their compensation packages to remain attractive. Employers should provide clear and well-defined career paths to address concerns about career progression. These paths outline the organization's roles, responsibilities, skills, and experience required to progress. Additionally, employers should emphasize development opportunities, such as training programs, mentorship initiatives, and access to professional networks. These opportunities can help Emiratis acquire new skills, stay current with industry trends, and enhance their employability and career prospects.

  1. Cultural Adaptation: 

Organizations must create inclusive work environments that embrace Emirati values, traditions, and customs while promoting collaboration and knowledge exchange between Emirati and non-Emirati employees. Employers can provide cultural awareness and sensitivity training to non-Emirati employees, promote understanding and respect for Emirati customs and traditions, foster cultural competence and empathy, and actively support and promote Emirati cultural practices. Companies can facilitate cross-cultural interactions and opportunities for employees to learn from one another through mentorship programs, team-building activities, and collaborative projects. Additionally, employers should encourage Emirati employees to take on leadership roles and participate in decision-making processes. They can contribute unique insights and perspectives to better business strategies and outcomes. 

Emiratisation continues to shape the UAE's labour market, with increasing emphasis on private sector engagement and skills development. While the journey towards workforce nationalization presents challenges, employers can overcome them by implementing effective strategies for a more robust and diverse Emirati workforce.