Dubai: Expatriates workers occupy 99 per cent of jobs in the private sector and 91 per cent in the public sector out of a total 3.1 million employees in the UAE, said a Dubai Municipality official.
"Going by the trend, by 2009 UAE nationals will account for less than eight per cent of the workforce and by 2020 UAE nationals will account for less than four per cent," said Jasem Ahmad Al Ali, a human resource specialist at the Human Resources Department of Dubai Municipality. He said the private sector accounts for more than 52 per cent of the total jobs in the UAE.
"As much as 10 per cent of UAE nationals resign per year due to social and cultural factors because low trust is an impediment to employment for UAE nationals. This is in addition to gender inequality in terms of position and salary. Nepotism, or what is called locally as 'wasta', also prevails in the workforce," he said.
Al Ali presented a research paper on 'Structural Barriers to Emiratisation: Analysis and Policy Recommendations' at the Eighth International Business Research Conference recently held in Dubai and was conferred with the best paper and the best presenter awards among participants from 32 countries.
He also suggested a set of measures to boost emiratisation in the country asserting that there is a need to enact policies and legislation to ensure the representation and participation of UAE nationals in the country's workforce.
Al Ali found there were no accurate statistics available for unemployed Emiratis.
He said the unemployment rate for UAE nationals is around 13 per cent. However, not all job-seekers are registered with Tanmia (The National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority) and those registered may not be prepared to take up work, but are seeking better opportunities.
Number of reasons
He listed a number of reasons for UAE nationals' decreased participation in the workforce in the private sector.
Firstly, the private sector's business model is largely dependent on the creation of low wage jobs.
Secondly, there is a lack of understanding among job-seekers of a commitment-based work culture; a lack of opportunity for training and development; negative stereotypes of UAE nationals held by employers and Human Rights Management policies.
Al Ali's paper also identified an open-door communication policy and measures to reinforce and retain talented employees as the best organisational culture that will attract UAE nationals.
Study: Ensure equality
Jasem Ahmad Al Ali, a human resource specialist at the Human Resources Department of Dubai Municipality, has listed a number of recommendations for attracting young nationals to both public and private sector jobs addressing crucial issues such as remuneration, gender inequality, trust, nepotism, and organisation culture.
With regard to remuneration, Al Ali suggested that there is a need to introduce a pay scale higher than the current market rates to satisfy UAE nationals. For this, the type of remuneration that attracts them should be identified. There is also a need to introduce programmes that propel UAE nationals as the employers' first choice.
To address gender inequality, Al Ali said policies and legislation should be enacted to ensure the representation and participation of UAE women in management positions. The labour law, he said, prohibits gender-based discrimination in terms of salary packages and career development opportunities.
"However, this must be monitored to ensure that organisations adhere to them in practice," said Al Ali.
He said treating UAE national employees fairly, justly and consistently, and encouraging their participation in decision-making, acting on their creative suggestions, giving them feedback on performance, empowerment and recognition can win their trust.
With regard to nepotism, Al Ali suggested encouraging the use of systematic criteria in employee selection such as psychometric, learning and aptitude tests, and establishing an arbitration commission with the powers to investigate and manage complaints of nepotism, including demanding evidence of transparent recruitment and promotion practices from all employers.