Emiratis registering their resumes during the Tawdheef Recruitment Fair in Abu Dhabi. Efforts are being made to increase Emirati employment in private sector. Picture used for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archive

Dubai: More than 800 unemployed Emiratis are currently on the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) database blacklist and will therefore not receive job search assistance for six months.

These numbers indicate a drastic increase in recent years in the number of unemployed nationals placed on the government organisation's blacklist. In 2009, Gulf News reported that the ENDP's new initiative saw more than 500 nationals placed on its blacklist in an attempt to deter job aspirant from being too choosy.

Eisa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the ENDP, said the increase is primarily due to a lack of awareness among nationals about the importance of employment. He also cited the increase as a consequence of the global recession due to the volume of UAE private sector cutbacks between 2008 and 2010.

"We [the government] didn't invest much into changing the mindset and promoting the different employment sectors to the market of job seekers," he said.

"We didn't work heavily and continuously on changing the mentality of people about the importance of working in different sectors — specifically the private sector."

He added, changing the mentality of nationals is often faced with cultural barriers that directly contribute to the unemployment among Emirati women who make up more than 500 of blacklisted candidates.

The ENDP essentially works to reduce Emirati unemployment by matching candidates to jobs either in the public or private sector. However, no show and unserious candidates, as well as those who reject job offers, after having been contacted by the ENDP six times, are then blacklisted for six months.

"The candidates are told very clearly that their name will be transferred to our blacklist and will no longer receive employment opportunities from us," said Al Mulla.

ENDP database figure show there are nearly 18,200 unemployed UAE nationals seeking employment through the Dubai government organisation — essentially a department of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority. However, Al Mulla said there are approximately 33,000 unemployed registered nationals across the country.

"The global recession somehow affected our market, which affected the number of Emiratis actively seeking work in the different sectors," he said. "There were lots of stories we heard about the private sector firing nationals and that made Emiratis think twice before joining the private sector."

He added, however, 2011 saw a downturn trend as figures showed a drastic drop in the number of people added to the blacklist last year. Between 2008 and 2010 more than 750 nationals were blacklisted, with the highest number recorded in 2009 at the peak of the global recession. However, last year just 26 nationals were added to the blacklist — signifying a substantial drop.

"Nationals have started to realise they are losing chances to get employed because we at ENDP and other places are serious," he said. "Although, previously organisations like the Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council may have had a more relaxed approach, they are following the same procedure we do." ENDP's main mandate is to reduce Emirati unemployment numbers across the country, with a focus on Dubai. The organisation is also working to increase the number of nationals employed in the private sector.

"The blacklist has had a positive impact on nationals," he said. "Although, percentage-wise they only make up 1 per cent of our job-seekers, these 853 nationals are important to us."

He added private and public sector partnerships are critical to tackling unemployment in the UAE.

"The private and public sectors need to work together for the benefit of the country, the city and the people, because whenever there is a problem or issue with unemployment it means an Arab Spring," he said.