Emiratisation update
August 2019

The hiring of UAE nationals has increased over the past few months with increased demand from both public and private sector organisations. Primarily a focus for government entities (which still continues), we are now also seeing implementation of Emiratisation initiatives in support of Abu Dhabi vision 2030 across a larger range of privately owned organisations, throughout multiple industry sectors. As a result, it is anticipated that as many as 30,000 private sector jobs will be created in 2019 for UAE nationals – a figure announced recently by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

What does this mean for employers?

The competition for top Emirati talent is the highest it has ever been. Organisations are therefore having to assess their attraction and retention techniques to ensure that they have the most effective processes in place for securing talented employees. With this in mind and from speaking with Emirati working professionals themselves, it has long been clear that there are three core ‘pull factors’ attracting candidates to employers:

1. Learning and development (L&D) opportunities and initiatives

Development programmes are incredibly important to Emirati candidates. Many look for long term careers with employers and therefore like to see clear progression plans that support their development and signify longevity of employment. Etihad and Emirates Airline for example, have long supported Emiratisation with a range of dedicated development schemes and are considered very highly by many Emirati candidates.

What is included in development programmes is specific to the organisation, role and sector however, it is important that the training delivered addresses future skills in demand. In today’s work environment, digitalisation and the movement towards a more technology-based world economy for example, drive the need for development programmes to incorporate more digital skills training. 

2. Organisation culture

Work-life balance is an important factor for Emirati professionals when considering employer as many have very strong family ties and commitments outside of work, to which they dedicate much time to.

In relation to L&D opportunities mentioned above, transparency of success – particularly of other UAE nationals, is a big pull factor. Emiratis like to work in an open and encouraging workplace, with evidence of success for their future career. 

3. Employer brand

Emiraticandidates are very brand conscious, keen to work for employers who have strong brand integrity and reputation in the local market. Again, linking back to L&D opportunities, those organisations with dedicated development programmes, clear strategies and stories of career success for other UAE nationals are typically employers who Emiratis consider most trusted and who are therefore employers of choice.

Challenges for employers

Of course, the hiring of UAE nationals is different to that of expatriates and has its own complexities and requirements. It is important that the process of onboarding is managed as professionally and efficiently as possible. We have seen on too many occasions employers lose candidates due to the hiring process taking weeks / months longer than anticipated, resulting in a lack of trust in the organisation and loss of interest in the role. Employers must therefore manage candidates expectations, communicating on the status of their application on a regular basis and enforcing the value that they foresee in them. If in doubt about the process for hiring UAE nationals, it is advised that you work with a trusted recruitment partner who is experienced in this and able to provide the support you require.

While there are a number of Emirati candidates available for work in the local employment market, there does exist a skills shortage within technical engineering roles, digital marketing and communications, finance and HR – particularly those with industry specific accreditations. In the short term, attracting this talent to your organisation falls to those three core ‘pull factors’ mentioned above. How do your L&D offerings, culture and brand compare to others in the market? In the longer term, developing these skills internally is something many employers – particularly those within the government sector, are already strategically addressing. Whether that be through internal training or external (i.e. sponsorship for industry certifications including, ACCA, PMP, CIPD etc.), their L&D programmes are tailored to developing these skills so that they will have fully equipped workforces of the future.

In summary

Hiring of UAE nationals has picked up across all industry sectors in the region and we expect this to continue going forward. The good news for employers is that there is a growing number of skilled Emirati candidates in the market who are willing to work in both public and private sector organisations and who’s salary expectations are becoming more aligned to that of expatriate workers. However, competition amongst employers for UAE national talent is strong and attraction and retention campaigns – related to L&D initiatives, corporate culture and brand, are critical factors to securing the best available talent in the market.

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