Stock–UAE National Jobs
Apart from creating jobs for fresh Emirati graduates. the focus is on pulling in more UAE Nationals into the private sector. The 'Nafis' programme announced last year is at the heart of this transition. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Create a base of skilled UAE Nationals who can provide services as external auditors when corporate tax becomes a reality from June 2023. For Ghannam Al Mazrouei, Secretary-General of Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, that is a priority.

“If we are to get UAE Nationals thinking of jobs outside of the public sector, we need to create opportunities where the needs are most,” said Al Mazrouei, as the UAE’s ‘Nafis’ programme to build up Emirati presence in the private sector picks up some serious speed. “With corporate tax going live next year, we want private sector employers to have access sufficient numbers of skilled Emiratis too for audit services.”

The Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council essentially fast-tracks the upskilling and placements of UAE Nationals wanting to make that transition from a government job to one in the private. That is the core of what the Nafis programme – launched in September 2021 – wants to achieve. Specific targets have been set for the offtake of Emirati graduates in various sectors, as well as attracting those who are thinking of a career move.

Stock - Ghanem Al Mazroui of ETCC
Ghannam Al Mazrouei of Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council: “Under Nafis, there will be several monetary incentives offered initially to Emiratis opting for private sector roles. I am sure private sector employers will try to maintain these.” Image Credit: Supplied

According to market sources, tax audit firms will generate some of the highest job creation activity in the UAE starting post-summer. Demand for these services – the final UAE Corporate Tax regime is still being worked on and has set the rate at 9 per cent – and auditors who can provide all the needs have already seen increases.

“UAE Nationals with the required certifications such as the CPA can make careers given the scale of demand for tax auditors,” said Al Mazrouei. “The Council doesn’t identity candidates from the public sector and try to get them into private sector roles. Our role is to help those who decide to make that move.

“UAE Nationals taking on private sector roles can sustain the growth. We see the private sector as the backbone for the national economy – what we do is create the chances for Emiratis to shine. There are partnerships we have formed with Abu Dhabi Global Market and PwC as part of the process to expand Emiratis’ role in financial services.

“We encourage employers to utilise and register on the Nafis platform to connect with qualified nationals and fill the vacancies they have.”

Target setting

Under Nafis, clear guidelines have been issued on what the government expects:

* Emiratisation rate increased to 2 per cent annually for high-skilled jobs in private sector establishments that employ 50 workers or more. This aims at creating more than 12,000 job opportunities annually for citizens in all sectors, with an annual increase of 10 per cent for the initial five years.

* The decision provides job opportunities in more than 13,000 establishments in the private sector.

* Non-compliant companies will have to pay an amount of AED6,000 monthly, starting from January 2023, for every UAE National who has not been employed.

Coders, nurses too

Apart from auditors, the ETCC has identified software coding, nurses and legal services as areas where UAE Nationals could have decisive influence in the private sector.

“Whatever’s happened in these last two years identified clear shortages of nurses,” the Secretary-General added. “Where there is a demand and supply gap, there are incentives offered by the Government and there are vocational programmes to support local talent. If you look at the last 50 years, the government had done a lot to develop job roles in the public sector. Now, the same attention is being placed on the private sector.

“In the next 50 years, the private sector will lead economies. Whether in the East or West, every single country will see this happening. We want UAE Nationals to play their part in ours.”

Job support stipends for Emiratis
Nafis' on-the-job training support provides a monthly salary for 12 months based on the candidate's educational level:

* Dh8,000 for a university graduate;
* Dh6,500 for diploma holders; and
* Dh4,000 for high-school graduates.