The Minister of Human Resource & Emiratisation speaking in front of the FNC said that the labor laws will change soon in order to increase the number of Emiratis in the private sector in the UAE. There is no set date for these changes but given the target of increasing number of nationals in this sector to 5% by 2021 max, I would expect something after the summer period.
Two interesting pieces of information caught my eye in the article which was published in Gulf News, which I think private sector employers should pay close attention to, these are:
The government has set a target to employ 50% of the Emirati workforce in to the private sector. If we could ‘guesstimate’ that the total size of the Emirati workforce is a minimum of 200,000 (I am being modest here), If achieved this will still be a significant increase from the existing number of nationals in the sector.
400 selected professions in 2,000 private companies will now have to give priority to Emiratis when recruiting. 400 professions is not a small number and It’s important that private sector employers take note of this when preparing their workforce plans, we are already seeing professions in areas such as Health & Safety and Compliance for example as being earmarked as ‘Emirati priority’ roles.
Note: If you are looking for help with your approach in Emiratisation, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
On the back of the announcement by the UAE government to offer 10-year visas to investors, and professionals with specialist skills. Another segment that is set to benefit from the sweeping changes: Students. Specifically “exceptional” students. To be frank, I have always found that its disheartening to see students in universities worry about their future here after they graduate.
This reminded me of a study conducted in 2016 by leading HR Consultancy Aon called the Qudurat Wave report which was conducted with Dubai International Academic City. A key finding from the report was this: ‘Seven out of 10 university students intend to stay in the UAE after graduation’
Other interesting findings from the Qudurat Survey were:
“Only 17 per cent Emiratis surveyed for this year’s edition of Qudurat Wave study opted to work for the public sector as compared to 53 per cent in the previous edition”. While this result is encouraging, the question that begs an answer is what happens to Emirati students after graduating that changes their career preferences significantly towards opting for a career in the public sector only?
“One in five expats chose to go down the entrepreneurial route post their studies”. I for one, expected at least Two out of Five expats to prefer the entrepreneurial path. Could the students’ concerns over the challenging economic climate globally and regionally be the reason why there is less an appetite to set up on their own?
The UAE Cabinet’s announcement for sweeping reforms is quite significant, especially given the debate that has been happening around the topic whether within the community or the Federal National Cabinet (FNC). This debate was mainly based on concerns over the demographic imbalance and how will such a move effect locals (who happen to be a minority out of a population of slightly over 9 million).
The government first hinted of its direction to attracting top talent from around the world when the UAE Vision 2021 -also known as the National Agenda- was first announced in 2010. The idea was later announced by the Ministry of HR & Emiratisation a couple of years ago. What remained till yesterday was a legislation and a mechanism for implementation (which we have yet to see).
Of course, the question now is; what short term and long term effects will this move have on the economy and the job market?
While writing this article local newspapers across the country have been reporting that the UAE has been rated number one globally in 50 indices covering vital community and service sectors, this is according to the Global Competitiveness Index for the year 2017 – 2018.
The country has recently been achieving top rankings in the Arab World in areas such as Ease of Doing Business, Competitiveness, Human Development and Innovation. However, the UAE has made it clear that it has its sights at not only competing regionally but globally across various areas, and especially in the space of Innovation.
But let’s pause and think about this for a minute: “How can we expect to embrace Innovation and aim to compete globally in this space if we are too afraid to step out of our comfort zones, and we fear the unfamiliar. Innovation requires us to enable Creative, Courageous Character of Leadership.”. These were part of my views during a panel discussion in front of a group of local university students and graduates on the topic of predicting how the future would look like in the next 50-100 yrs during the National Science & Innovation Festival in Dubai.
I explained to the audience what I believed is the caliber of talent and business leaders let alone our country, but the world needs today. I had written about this back in 2011 in an article titled ‘Vitamin C for Today’s Leaders’ where I reflected on the lessons of the 2009 global downturn and the failings of some of corporate leaders who were at the helm of their organisations. In the article I prescribed that what desperately need talent that has or can deal with the 5 Cs (Hence the title Vitamin C, cheeky right?). These are:
-Talent is not afraid to step out of their COMFORT zone
-Talent that displays COURAGEOUS leadership
-Talent that is CREATIVE
-Talent that displays CHARACTER of leadership
-Talent that is CONSISTENT in its habits, practices and messaging
I found that these are the skills we need to nurture in our talent so that we enable them to be able to deal with the complex challenges the world is confronted with today, and lead the economy to become more sustainable, competitive and innovative.
Can you guess what happened when the Saudi General Directorate of Passports posted 140 new vacancies for women in Saudi Arabia?
The article below further proves that enabling women to pursue their careers and enter the workforce will allow for an eager, hungrier and possibly more ambitious type of talent in the Saudi job market.
However it also poses another question that was brought up by Ahmed AbdulQader, a Blue Ocean Strategist who commented on my post on LinkedIn; he cited that the fact that so many jobseekers apply for vacancies poses a challenge to employers who will have to be able to identify the right candidate, as well as jobseekers who want to stand out when applying for jobs.
In this article Tariq Al Maeena addresses a real concern shared by expats in KSA -and to an extent other GCC countries. This is quite a dilemma and an unenviable position the Ministry of Labour and Social Development in Saudi Arabia finds itself in. Following are my thoughts on this:
-The decision to nationalize occupations especially in ‘Sales’ seem to target the SME sector mainly. The Ministry is already under fire by Saudi SME owners who took to social media to complain that the ministry’s decisions in the past year harm SMEs.
-The Saudi govt’s recent push to enable women in various walks of life means that many of these occupations will be accessible to Saudi women who have the hunger and eagerness to get in to the workforce (I’ll share a story soon that demonstrates that. Watch this space).
-An argument could be made that the Saudi govt. (as well as the UAE govt’s) labor decisions and restrictions might be aimed at enhancing the quality of expatriate workforce these countries attract by allowing more qualified and skilled expats for occupations that require specialized skills and experience, thus moving to the planned direction of transitioning to a ‘Knowledge Economy’.