The concerted, consistent, efforts of the UAE to accelerate Emiratisation received a boost last week with the announcement of a host of initiatives to empower citizens and raise their competitiveness, leading up to 2021. The driving philosophy towards this goal is fuelled by a strong, three-pronged pragmatism that is intrinsically of a catalytic nature: Emiratisation as a joint responsibility that requires the development of partnerships with the federal, local governmental sector and free zones; developing of a strategic framework for workforce planning by focusing on qualitative Emiratisation in targeted sectors; and encouraging businesses to adopt Emiratisation and encourage citizen retention and growth. The UAE aims to create a 50 per cent participation of Emiratis in the private sector by 2021 and these approaches will help move towards that percentage with good pace.

Along with the emphasis on job creation, the UAE is also planning a national programme of awareness among citizens, job seekers, students, schools, higher education institutions and parents about the value of work and the advantages offered by the private sector. The need to magnetise the allure of the private sector is a relevant priority, given that many Emiratis have traditionally, and primarily, been drawn to public sector jobs for many reasons, including better employment benefits and more appealing perquisites.

One of the defining features of the current initiative is how the targeted private sector jobs will be defined: Percentage of contribution to gross domestic product, annual growth rate in the sector and importance in the federal and local government’s strategic plans are some of the criteria. These are critical considerations as they will ensure that Emiratis will be absorbed in areas that directly promote growth.

In January 2017, the UAE announced new measures wherein private sector companies in the UAE will be monitored to ensure adherence to the government’s Emiratisation campaign. In tandem, many recruiters from non-governmental companies are now better-placed to understand what they can do to attract UAE nationals. Just as Emiratis are being encouraged to review their outlook on private sector employment, so too must the private sector expand its sphere to be inclusive of Emiratis.

This is not an optional path to take for the private sector. It’s a responsibility they must employ with utmost intent because seamless integration of UAE’s vision and the contribution of the private sector is what will ensure the UAE meets its 2021 Emiritisation target.