UAE | Employment

Emiratis at career fair prefer public sector

A small segment still opts for growth opportunities provided by private companies

  • By Jumana Khamis, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 18:43 February 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Students from Orouba School explore job opportunities during the National Career Exhibition yesterday at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
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Sharjah: The private sector employment rate for Emiratis may be only 10 per cent but Emirati youth seeking jobs continue to gravitate towards public sector companies in view of the benefits they offer.

Shorter working hours, holiday entitlements and higher salaries in the public sector remain the biggest draws for young Emirati jobseekers.

“I am looking for a job opportunity in government companies in public relations because of the working hours and benefits — if they were to equalise the benefits in private companies, then, yes, I’d look into it,” said Nada Abdul Rahman, who was exploring opportunities at the National Career Exhibition at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Another jobseeker at the exhibition, Ghaida Ali also said the reason she was searching for a government job was not because of the working hours but the holiday entitlements specified. Her main reservation about working for a private company was that she could be asked to put in overtime on weekends and national holidays.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, yesterday opened the job fair, which will run until February 22.

A majority of young jobseekers present at the event were on the lookout for job opportunities in the government sector and government-owned companies, but several fresh graduates were focused on gaining international experience.

Humaid Ahmad, a young Emirati searching for a job without a stated preference for any particular sector, said government companies offered shorter working hours, but an employee stood to gain more experience and exposure in private companies. “You even get promoted faster in private companies, and you have more opportunities,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad Mohammad Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who was also present at the exhibition’s opening ceremony, confirmed that companies participating in the job fair were focused on the ‘Year of Emiratisation’ initiative. “Several other initiatives at government as well as individual company levels are being launched to employ more Emirati citizens,” he said, referring to both sectors.

With only 22,000 Emiratis employed in the private sector out of a workforce of 250,000, public sector companies are finding it hard to continue absorbing young Emiratis entering the job market. The government is now looking to bring employee benefits in private sector companies on par with the public sector in order to appeal to Emirati youth.

Several banks participating in the three-day Career Exhibition revealed that, with continuous government efforts to Emiratise the job market, Emirati applicants were being prioritised during recruitment processes at their respective companies.

“We’ve always had the focus on Emiratisation but this year we are focusing more attention on hiring Emiratis to be in line with the government’s initiative,” said Abdullah Edham, managing director and HR head, Middle East and Africa, at Citibank Dubai.

Edham added that the bank is offering a special management associate programme this year for highly talented graduate Emiratis from universities in the UAE and around the world as a part of the recruitment process. “It’s a one-year programme that will include international assignments and training which will set their career paths,” he said.

Gulf News spoke with Rajaram Gode, manager of human resources at Wall Street Exchange. He said the company’s goals this year include increasing the overall Emiratisation rate as well as meeting a recruitment quota for fresh graduates. “Our target is to have Emirati employees reaching 25 per cent of the overall employees — right now we are at 15 per cent,” he said.

Employment opportunities are also set to surge across all sectors in the country, with the economy cruising at a steady pace and major construction and infrastructure projects being announced.

“More and more financial brains will be in need to steer local and regional establishments through these multi-billion dollar projects’ execution phase,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, director-general, Expo Centre Sharjah, who was present at the exhibition.

The ninth International Education Show is also taking place alongside the 15th edition of the National Career Exhibition. The education show is featuring more than 100 higher education institutions from all over the world, and is hosting 65 top boarding schools, colleges, and universities. Several educational institutions from India are participating in the event under the banner of the Great India Education Fair.

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