A year after the Ministry of Labour had its name changed to the ‘Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation’ (MOHRE); the Ministry came out last week announcing a series of new initiatives it is rolling out to drive Emiratisation in the country, and from the looks of it, the MOHRE has its sight on the private sector. The MOHRE took this opportunity to also share what it has observed as some of the critical challenges and realities surrounding the current state of Emiratisation. There’s so much of information spread out across the Arabic and English publications that I thought it would be helpful for employers if I shared here a summary of what I think should matter to you as an employer.
So, let’s start with what I believe is the most important announcement:
- Say bye, bye to the Qouta system and prepare for a shift to the ‘Points System’: Well, not just entirely yet for now. The ‘Quota system’ has been for so long the target of much criticism by employers. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve been asked my opinion on the quota system, and each time I’ve dissapointed many with my response, that as a short-term solution, the quota is a “necessary evil” or a “safety pin” until we resolve the other fundamental challenges such as the education system, attitudes of Emirati jobseekers to working in the private sector, etc. The MOHRE is now ‘piloting’ a Points System across a select number of companies. The ‘Points System’ basically aims to not only measure success of Emiratisation solely on the number of Emiratis a company hires, but rather on a variety of other achievements such as the training initiatives the employer offers Emirati employees, the efforts the employer demonstrates in hiring nationals in management and specialist roles (business critical roles), the work environment and the company’s demonstrated leadership commitment to Emiratisation. From what I gather, the employers selected to be part of this ‘pilot’ will automatically become members of an ‘Emiratisation Partners Club’ and will be categorised as a ‘Platinum, Gold and Silver’ member according to each employer’s performance according to the new points system. I expect most of you are eager to get an answer to that burning question: “Are there any incentives offered to employers adopting this system and what are they”? I don’t have an answer to that quite frankly, but all I will say is “watch this space”.
- No New Employment Visas will be issued to employers unless they can show that there are no qualified Emiratis who qualify for the role: This obviously applies on companies that qualify for the Quota system or the new Points System. To show how serious the Ministry is, the senior officials of the Ministry have been working on linking the process of issuing visas with the current database of jobseekers with the Ministry.
- The Ministry has set a definition of who is considered according to its system a ‘Jobseeker’ and accordingly will be given priority in the system: This most probably means that only Emiratis who fit the definition will be accounted for according to the Ministry’s system. The Ministry has set 11 criteria defining an Emirati ‘Jobseeker’ who will be provided priority support by the system. I won’t get in to all of the criteria, but it excludes for example Emiratis who are retired, business owners and Emiratis who are still employed.
- Finally, Jobseekers will be classified according to their “seriousness” in seeking employment: I have to confess, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’ve seen my fair share – it looks like the Ministry also has seen its fair share too – of jobseekers who are either not serious about finding a job, extremely fussy or just don’t know what they want. However, I also know that the phenomenon of ‘passive talent’ is a common characteristic among jobseekers across the world and particularly ‘millenials’. I feel we need to be able to differentiate the two from each other rather than throw them in one category and find creative ways to engage ‘passive talent’.
- The Case of ‘Non-Active’ Emirati Jobseekers: The Ministry shared that out of the approximately 9200 registered jobseekers in its database, only 2700 are considered ‘Active Jobseekers’. This is quite concerning. The Ministry cited that ‘Non-Active’ Jobseekers were the ones who either failed to update their CVs for more than 90 days, failed to attend phone calls by the recruiters at the Ministry, failed to show up for interviews and basically managed to do everything that would make a recruiter cringe. Interestingly, the Ministry has come out to openly criticise Emirati jobseekers for not being active enough and rejecting job offers continuously, and has hinted that it will deal with them appropriately. This means the Ministry acknowledges the size of the challenge at hand.
- Around 65% of employers cited that Emirati candidates lacked the language and communication skills required for the workplace
- Women consisted approximately 82% of the registered Jobseekers: Besides the fact that Emirati women are more proactive and serious about pursuing experience and careers (I confess, we men need to pull up our socks), my experience is that there a number of cultural factors as well behind Emirati men’s lack of proactiveness in jobseeking.
What happens now?
- Well, I believe it is high time that besides jobseekers, employers need to be proactive about setting themselves up to hire Emiratis, rather than wait to see if the current(or even future) legislations will affect them or not. There are various ways your organisation can begin to explore Emiratisation proactively. If you are interested and want to learn more and are looking for help in this area, please feel free to drop me an email at: Talib@talibbinhashim.com or send me a LinkedIn message.