Private firms may struggle to meet 15% Emirati quota

Labour law requiring private firms to have 15% national workforce will have ‘rocky’ start, recruiters say
Private firms may struggle to meet 15% Emirati quota
Private sector firms in the UAE must fill 15 percent of their workforce with Emirati staff, under Ministry of Labour laws
By Karen Leigh
Wed 22 Dec 2010 01:33 PM

A labour law mandating that UAE-based companies have a workforce comprised of 15
percent Emiratis will be a struggle for private sector firms to fulfill, a top
recruiter said.

“It’s
going to be difficult,” said Konstantina Sakellariou, marketing and operations
director at Stanton Chase, Dubai, in an interview with Arabian Business. “It
will take time and companies should be prepared. It’s going to be a bit of a
rocky start.

 “The biggest challenge is to keep the
communication good – neither will see the best results at first.”

The
quota was included in a ruling issued by the Ministry of Labour on Sunday, which
also scrapped a law requiring skilled workers to secure a no-objection
certificate from their employer before taking up a new job.

Companies
will have to offer salaries that match UAE government jobs if they hope to
attract the best nationals, most of whom gravitate towards the public sector,
said Matthew Gribble, managing director at Matthew Page Midde East.

“Companies
will need to be willing to remunerate candidates [whose qualifications are] in
line with their expectations,” he said. “Government entities compete very
heavily for the best UAE national graduates, so they need to offer comparable
packages.”

“It’s
an inevitable step – Emiratis can’t be employed forever in the government
sector,” Sakellariou said. “Younger Emiratis are getting educated, and they’re
going to enter into the private sector.”

Gribble
said there was plenty of talent to fill the quota, “particularly at graduate
levels coming through the universities… there’s a good supply of well-educated
candidates that can be found for roles within any kind of organization.”

Retention
rates for Emiratis have traditionally been lower than those seen among expat workers
in the private sector. Companies will find this an ongoing hurdle, said Sakellariou.

“Retention
is a challenge in general and this is a bit difficult because the national work
force is protected – when someone has to face the challenges of the private
sector, it can be challenging,” she said, adding that cultural differences can
play a role in workplace problems.

“One
thing is to enforce the hiring – and there are many organizations trying to
bridge the gap between the Emirati workforce and the private sector. The Emirati
workforce can be very motivated if they are communicated to in the right way.
They want to develop.”

Both
Sakellariou and Gribble said they expected business from both nationals seeking
employment, and companies seeking Emirati staff to increase.

“Right
now, compared to the expat population, our database has a small percentage of
nationals,” she said, “but it grows bigger and bigger. We have dedicated
workers who focus on Emiratisation.”

 

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