Abu Dhabi: Emiratisation has to ensure full employment for Emiratis and that they play leadership roles in the social and economic development and management of their country, a top official said on Monday.

Admitting that the UAE's economy will continue to be highly dependent on foreign workers for the foreseeable future, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, said Emiratisation cannot be left to open market forces alone.

"We need to examine some of the important facts of the national labour market. Research shows that the majority of employed Emiratis work in the public sector. This trend, however, cannot continue as government and other public sector agencies are successfully slimming down, largely through improved productivity and retirements," Shaikh Nahyan told the Emiratisation Forum 2009, being held in Abu Dhabi.

He added that for Emiratisation to succeed, the Government must explore ways to increase the share of employment for nationals in the private sector.

"We seek a situation where every private sector employer develops and implements a plan to aggressively recruit and employ nationals. We need a proactive role from all corners of the private economy.

"First to help articulate their employment needs; second to create and seek to fill appropriate employment opportunities for nationals in their companies; and third, to provide on-the-job training programmes to enable nationals to develop the skills and experience to advance in their companies."

Speaking of strategies with private sector employers, Shaikh Nahyan said: "We must work to overcome flawed stereo-typing of citizens as employees; and we must provide data and information about different careers and job openings to students and others seeking work across the country."

He explained the process of combating unemployment among Emiratis must operate within the boundaries of clear national policies on manpower planning and educational development.

"These policies must be based on a true understanding of the social, economic and labour market environments. They must also be attentive to the needs and expectations of employers, and to advances provided by developing technologies. The task requires effective labour market information systems and demands the commitment and collaboration of all segments of society."

The inaugural conference - whose theme is Advancing and Retaining Emiratis in the Workplace is being organised by Abu Dhabi University in conjunction with Aim Events with the sponsorship of Focus Direct, management consultants who specialise in the placement of Emiratis.

Jennifer Randive, the Managing Director of Focus Direct explained that Emiratisation should not be regarded as a concept simply to fulfil quotas. "We need to know what their objectives are and what motivates them," she said.

"This Emiratisation forum will be successful only if it can help in assisting UAE nationals achieve their personal work goals.

"An Emirati workforce should be able to add value, get involved in the work environment and merge with the work culture and the relationship between company and candidates should be considered as a long-term relationship.

"The candidates should have a passion to learn whilst the companies should give them the opportunity to grow and develop. And this is why a young Emirati will have better results for his future career if he works in a multi-cultural private company rather than working for the government."

The two-day forum will cover such subjects as developing the calibre of employees, improving retention rates, maintaining a motivated workforce and managing quotas. It will have practical workshops and follow-up networking meetings to be held throughout the year.