Abu Dhabi: As the UAE is working to reduce the differences in career incentives between the government and private sectors, a move was launched on Monday to encourage young Emiratis to experience working in a different environment and culture – private businesses.

A year-long awareness campaign titled “ The Private Sector is not just a Job” and targeting nearly 50,000 university students across the country, got under way on Monday.

Nasser Al Minhali, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, said the government was promoting the participation of Emiratis in the private sector to meet the numbers expected to enter the labour market within the next two decades.

“The move, part of Absher programme to recruit citizens in the private and public sectors, is meant to create a positive perception with Emirati students of working in the private sector, educate them on significance of the sector and its contribution to the national economy and developing a platform for constructive discussions of issues related to work in the private sector,” Al Minhali said.

The drive groups the UAE University in Al Ain, the Higher Colleges of Technology acroiss the country, the Zayed University and Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research and includes internships, workshops and forums for students throughout this academic year.

The number of workers in the private sector now stands at about 4 million, that includes only 22,000 citizens, according to the latest statistics prepared by the Labour Ministry late last year. Nearly 65 per cent of those 22,000 citizens work in the banking sector.

New jobs in the Federal government sector do not exceed 2,000 a year, according to a study conducted by the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR).

The Abshar programme is providing about 5,000 jobs a year and this will be increased as the programme can accommodate a larger numbers of unemployed in the joint sector institutions.

Al Minhali said only through broad community participation including universities, businesses and other stakeholders can the goal be achieved.

The Labour Ministry is currently developing a policy to improve and increase the salaries of UAE citizens in the private sector

through subsidies for a period of about two years and after that the employers themselves will take up their responsibilities.

Another challenge which the ministry needsto eliminate is the difference in official holidays of up to 57 days per year in favour of the government sector.

The Labour Ministry proposed early this year to overcome this challenge through the equality of holidays in both sectors and granting of a two-day weekend to the private sector as adopted in government departments.

Emirati manpower in labour sectors within the state is about 225,000, which is projected to reach 605,000 by 2030, according to statistics of the Labour Ministry.

Emiratis who take up jobs in the private sector will have up to 30 per cent of their wages paid by the Government as part of an initiative launched by the Absher programme.

The scheme aims to encourage more private-sector companies to hire Emiratis with higher degrees and diplomas, and offer them professional on-the-job training.