Employment opportunities for Emiratis have been created in the private sector following an outflow of expat workers from the UAE after the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, an industry expert said.
Businesses and nationals in the UAE stand to benefit when working together in the private sector, explained Sarah Shaw, head of section at UAE’s Executive Office’s Strategy section.
Speaking to Arabian Business following the 3D Virtual Emiratisation Career Fair convened by recruitment and virtual events platform JobsForNationals last week, Shaw explained how Emiratis themselves can make their CVs more attractive to prospective employers.
Sarah Shaw, Head Section of the Strategy Department for The Executive Office
Why should companies in the UAE seek to invest more in recruiting and developing Emirati talent?
I think in terms of the sustainability and ensuring that the people of this country are enabled and empowered to be part of some of the key priority sectors of the UAE, it's important that companies actually invest in nationals.
The Emirati community has a lot of vantage points when it comes to cultural affinities, cultural norms and other things that could really support these multinational organizations in being truly ‘glocal’, which means that they are both global and relevant to the local market. With the expansion of Saudi, this aspect becomes even more prevalent, and I think that’s the value added of Emiratis.
Just by being close kin of the Saudi population, the Emiratis are able to give really good insights on how to build those lasting relationships with Saudi organisations.
They are also able to really bring out some of the most interesting products or services that these multi-corporations could offer both to the Saudi government and the Saudi market at large in their private sector.
How does employing more Emiratis benefit the company’s bottom line?
So you could talk about market acquisition and capabilities of defining new markets that some of these organisations might not have been aware [of] because they didn't have the Emirati savviness to really gauge the needs and wants of some of these major markets.
When I look around me with some of these new technologies and new organisations that are popping up and becoming unicorns, I think there's a real opportunity for the Gulf to leverage a lot of that to the benefit of these organisations.
Do you have any benchmarks on the productivity contribution of Emirati professionals since Emiratisation was first introduced?
The Emiratisation story in the private sector started off with specific jobs such as public relations officers or human relations managers back in 2008, but now it is about creating a more holistic approach.
You cannot look at it from a numbers game, it needs to be the employer’s choice where both the national and non-national workforce in those organisations benefit; it's about being exciting and interesting to work in. Generation Z or generation Alpha employees are more interested in being impactful and purposeful as opposed to counting the working hours.
The whole enabling and culture inclusion piece is a big one. In the past, we used to be able to glide over it by having some kind of coaching and mentoring sessions between the non-national population in the organisation and the national population. But now it has to be much bigger than that, you've got a lot of nationalities working in one place and that cultural integration needs to be seamless – and it works both ways.
Many of the nationals might not have had an opportunity to interact with other nationalities outside of the service orientation such as hotel or restaurant employees and I think that's an opportunity lost, especially since there's a great benefit of that cross-fertilisation between cultures.
What can Emiratis themselves do to put themselves to the top of the consideration pile?
In my mind, [there are] three things. Number one is Emiratis need to really think about the programs that they enter at the undergraduate level. They need to really be considering future skills and future jobs that are lacking at the moment in the current market.
The second thing is once they either enter a program or graduate, they need to ensure that they get as many internships as possible. You need to be able to see the employers that you could potentially work for and employers need to see you to see your value.
Lastly, I think diversity is important in this context. Most graduates have a one track mind regarding their career path but they need to understand that it is actually alright to start your career somewhere and end it somewhere else completely in this day and age.
How much of a problem is the preconception or stereotyping when it comes to Emirati employees?
I think this is a worldwide problem: There's a lot of stereotyping of different nationalities by different people.
I think the more dialogue people have with those nationalities and the more they build relationships that are both professional and personal, the more likely that those stereotypes get broken down over time.
So I wouldn't say it's a big problem, but it is a challenge that organisations need to overcome by opening that platform up for dialogue.
Do you think we're at the point where employment law needs to introduce quotas for private companies in the UAE?
So I am somebody who's very much against the numbers game but the quotas do help in some respect.
It's a numbers game in the sense that a lot of these organisations go through a recruitment hike at some point and then they have people on their payroll that aren't really active. Then, three months down the line, these people leave because they're not active employees.
So to me, the quota game is one factor but you need so many other elements in place to ensure that Emiratisation as a concept is implemented well.