Abu Dhabi: Emirati talent and its enrichment is at the heart of the Nafis – the second set of 13 projects revealed on Sunday under the wider ‘Projects of the 50’, which are being announced throughout September.
Following the milestone declaration at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, Emiratis are looking forward to the new opportunities that will soon become available to them.
Nafis, set to be launched in October, will invest heavily in developing Emirati talent. One of its major projects – the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council – will ensure 75,000 private sector jobs for Emiratis over the next five years, while another will provide educational grants to develop nursing talent among 10,000 Emiratis.
Zayed Al Nuaimi, 26, a media professional, told Gulf News: “These are some fantastic initiatives. Who knows, I might start a new media enterprise on my own if I can benefit from the entrepreneurship schemes that were announced. The issues that are being addressed through Nafis, like challenges in private sector jobs, are legitimate concerns we harbour as young Emiratis.”
Nasser Al Baloushi, 24, an Emirati university graduate, said the schemes would help bring private sector positions on par with government jobs. “I am very happy to hear of them,” he said.
Alya Al Yassi, an Emirati media researcher, said: "Investing in the 'people of the homeland' comes at the forefront of UAE's strategies and plans, which aim to provide well-being and quality of life, develop their intellectual and scientific capabilities, and arm them with skills based on the knowledge economy, artificial intelligence and other concepts that support development and prosperity."
She added: "The decisions focused on launching initiatives that would increase the percentage of young citizens of both sexes to work in the private sector and contribute to leading the wheel of economic development and achieving sustainable development."
Focus on nursing manpower
Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, director of oncology in the UAE for VPS Healthcare, the parent company of Burjeel and Medeor Hospitals, said: “[Developing Emirati nursing skills] is indeed a much-needed move. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to clearly see the worldwide shortage of nurses in effect. This kind of a shortage can happen at any time, so we need to have our own nursing manpower in the UAE.”
Dr Al Shamsi added: “Moreover, developing Emirati skills in nursing will help staff advanced healthcare fields with nursing shortages, including transplantation, oncology, haematology and paediatrics. Finally, it is truly important to have high-calibre personnel involved in patient care.
The benefits of Nafis will also extend to Emiratis employed across a wide range of other industries, said Ghannam Al Mazroui, secretary-general of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council. “The UAE government is proactive, and we are looking to the future. What we have seen over the last 50 years is that the government has contributed a lot, and what we want to see now is the private sector to lead the economy through its contributions,” he added.
“We want to see more Emirati talent in the private sector. The percentage is not that much at the moment, so we will support employers by subsidising some of the contributions. In essence, we want the private sector to be more attractive towards Emiratis, and for Emiratis to be attracted to the private sector,” Al Mazroui said.
Ahead of the roll-out of Nafis - and beyond its launch - government executives will meet with industry executives to iron out any kinks. “There will be lots of collaborations, meetings and workshops with the private sector to understand the challenges [of private sector companies], and to also understand what we can do to help them meet and accelerate these targets,” Al Mazroui said.
Industry leaders also welcomed the massive programme geared towards Emirati human capital. Alain Bejjani, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim, said: “This is a thoroughly thought-out initiative that tackles a number of challenges that were, in the past, related to the attractiveness of the private sector for Emiratis, as well as the ability of the private sector to welcome, support, train and develop Emiratis.”
Bejjani added that the company he heads has an array of roles for aspiring Emiratis to rise to, including positions in accounting, programming, coding, law, and technology.