Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Education,(left), is seen talking to Sultan Al Shamsi, FNC member from Fujairah, Musabeh Saeed Al Kitbi, member from Sharjah, Mohammad Butti Al Qubaisi, member from Abu Dhabi, and Faisal Abdullah Al Tenaiji, member from Ras Al Khaimah, during the break of FNC session at FNC premises in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Emiratisation efforts lack strategic planning, tangible results and coordination between various organisations in charge of employment and training of job seekers, members of the Federal National Council told the Government on Tuesday.

Rashid Al Shuraiqi, a member from Ras Al Khaimah, said the Government has launched many Emiratisation initiatives, but these lacked strategic vision and tangible results. “The Government did nothing but focusing on job fairs. There are 3,8 million jobs in the private sector of which at least 800,000 jobs can be filled by citizens. But the present situation is just 20,000 to 30,000 Emiratis are employed in private businesses, while the line of job seekers is constantly growing.

Al Shuraiqi said all initiatives are focused on the federal government, which accounts for only seven per cent of the job market and totally ignore the private sector which represents 93 per cent of the market.

Ahmad Abdullah Al Amash, a member from Ras Al khaimah, said Emiratisation is a national security issue with the UAE constitution and laws stressing the right of citizens to work. “How many citizens are employed in 2011, 2012 and 2013,” he asked.

The FNC called for introducing an unemployment insurance system to help many people who have lost their jobs and setting up a central body to oversee Emiratisation strategies, training and employment of job seekers.

The FNC also demanded that salaries of citizens in the private sector be subsidised and the gap between working hours, holidays and other perks of the public and private sectors be bridged.

The members of the legislature also pressed for changing labour laws so that free zones be subjected to the laws and those committed to Emiratisation be rewarded.

The head of an ad-hoc committee on Emiratisation at the House reiterated that 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 the young jobless scourge is jeopardising opportunities for future prosperity and growth.

“It is changing family dynamics, as parents find themselves caring for grown up 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.

The House demanded 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, considering long working hours, lower job security and less perks in the private sector.

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.

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 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.