Abu Dhabi

The head of an ad-hoc committee on Emiratisation at the Federal National Council says unemployment among Emiratis is a national security issue, describing unemployed young people as “a scarred and lost generation”.

“Young jobless Emiratis can be victims of late marriage, drug abuse and despair. Their future now seems tainted, which threatens economic growth and social stability,” said Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member from Dubai.

Al Rahoumi told Gulf News ahead of a long-anticipated debate by the House on Emiratisation in the public and private sectors scheduled for Tuesday the young jobless scourge is jeopardising opportunities for future prosperity and growth.

“It is changing family dynamics, as parents find themselves caring for grown children and as unemployed young citizens defer starting their own families and large numbers of would-be young consumers find themselves hunkering down in joblessness. Above all, joblessness assails the psyches of young citizens who have been told that education is the pathway to a more prosperous life only to find that their degrees are no antidote to a bleak job market,” Al Rahoumi said.

Stressing that the jobless rate for youth in the UAE which employs millions of foreign workers is very high, Al Rahoumi said it is unacceptable by all standards for the Government to keep Emiratis unemployed.

“Emiratisation quotas must be introduced at all private companies and salaries should be subsidised by the Government so that citizens earn an income equal to that earned by their peers in the public sector if not more considering long working hours, lower job security and less perks in the private sector,” he said.

Al Rahoumi said the UAE should not have reached such high unemployment rates with up to 40,000 citizens unemployed. predicting that by 2020, nearly 150,000 Emiratis would be jobless unless the problem is resolved. He blamed the problem on the lack of strategic planning.

The Emiratisation Committee suggests that the Labour Ministry issues no more work permits for certain jobs that should be filled by citizens, only including secretaries, account clerks and receptionists. “Within six months, these openings can be filled up by thousands of Emiratis,” he said.

Al Rahoumi said it was absolutely unfair to have two citizens, both graduates with the same skills, with a Dh10,000 or Dh15,000 salary gap between them just because one took a job in the public sector and the other was employed in the private sector.

In the medium- and long-term, Al Rahoumi said the Government should study the reasons why citizens are discouraged to take up certain jobs like teaching. “Emirati male teachers account for only 10 per cent of the country’s needs. This issue should be addressed to create thousands of other attractive jobs for citizens.”

Mosabah Saeed Al Katbi, a member from Sharjah and rapporteur of the committee, suggested the government should introduce an unemployment security system and the pensions and social security system should be changed so that the gap between local, federal departments and the private sector is fixed.

Al Katbi said the labour law provides for offering a vacancy first to a citizen and a foreign worker may be hired only if there was no Emirati worker for the job. “That article of the law was not being enforced,” Al Katbi said, blaming the Labour Ministry for the lack of execution of the law..

Al Katbi said the Labour Ministry should not tolerate “bogus Emiratisation”, in which citizens are being hired only on papers or foreign workers are outsourced to allow companies to meet quotas.