HR expert at Dubai Municipality suggests measures to boost Emiratisation

A human resource specialist at Dubai Municipality has suggested a set of measures to boost emiratisation in the country asserting that there is a need to enact policies and legislation to ensure the representation and participation of UAE nationals in the country's workforce.

Jassim Ahmed Al Ali, a specialist who works at Human Resources Department of Dubai Municipality, was presenting a paper on "Structural Barriers to Emiratisation: Analysis and Policy Recommendations" at the Eighth International Business Research Conference which was held recently in Dubai. He was conferred with the "best paper" and "best presenter" awards among participants from 32 countries.

Quoting some official figures, Al Ali said, of the 3.1 million employees in the UAE's public and private sectors, expatriate workers occupy 99% jobs in the private sector which accounts for more than 52% of the total jobs in the UAE, whereas 91% of the workforce in the public sector are also expatriates.

"By 2009 UAE nationals will account for less than 8 per cent in the workforce and by the 2020 UAE nationals will account for less than 4%," he said.

There are no accurate statistics for unemployed nationals in the UAE, a matter of considerable concern to the authorities as it impinges on dimensions for social capital and human capital status of nationals. The unemployment rate for UAE nationals is around 13 per cent. However, not all job seekers are registered with TANMIA (The National Human Resource Development & Employment Authority) and those registered may not be prepared to take work, but are seeking better opportunities.

He listed a number of reasons for UAE nationals' decreased participation in the workforce in private sector. Firstly, private sector's business model is largely dependent on the creation of low wage jobs (remuneration packages). Secondly, there is lack of understanding among job-seekers of commitment-based work culture, instead of relying heavily on monetary rewards and top-down mechanisms to try and combat job-hopping; lack of opportunity for training and development (career path); negative stereotypes of UAE nationals held by employers and HRM policies.

"As much as 10% nationals resign their jobs per annum due to social and cultural factors because low-trust is an impediment to employment for UAE nationals. This is in addition to gender inequality in terms of position and salary. Nepotism, or what is called locally as wasta, also prevails in the workforce," he said.

Al Ali listed his recommendations for attracting young nationals to both the public and private sectors jobs addressing crucial issues such as remuneration, gender inequality, trust, nepotism, and organisation culture. With regard to remuneration, Al Ali suggested that there is a need to introduce a pay-scale better than the current market rates to satisfy UAE nationals. For this, the type of remuneration that attracts them should be identified. There is also a need to introduce programmes that propel UAE nationals as the employers' first choice.

To address gender inequality, Al Ali said policies and legislation should be enacted to ensure the representation and participation of UAE women in management positions. The labour law, he said, prohibits gender-based discrimination in terms of salary packages and career development opportunities. "However, this must be monitored to ensure that organisations adhere to them in practice," said Al Ali.

Treating UAE national employees fairly, justly and consistently, and their participation in decision-making, acting on their creative suggestions, giving them feedback on performance, empowerment and recognition can win their trust, said the paper.

With regard to nepotism, Al Ali suggested encouraging the use of systematic criteria in employee selection such as psychometric, learning and aptitude test, and establishing an arbitration commission with the powers to investigate and manage complaints of nepotism, including demanding evidence of transparent recruitment and promotion practices from all employers. This organisation also undertakes awareness campaigns to alert citizens against nepotism, and publishes proven nepotism incidents and their outcomes.

The paper also identified an open-door communication policy and measures to reinforce and retain their talented employees as the best organisational culture that will attract UAE nationals.

Al Ali said to generate the needed information for this study, two preliminary studies were conducted. One study focused on an extensive literature search under capital theory to review constructs and findings that are relevant to employment issues for UAE nationals and identify means to address those issues. The second study comprised an exploratory study of the views of 20 senior HR managers of statutory organisations in Dubai. Based on the findings from the literature search and the exploratory study, 13 variables were identified that have a significant impact on UAE nationals in the workforce. Based on these variables, the main survey questionnaire was developed and distributed to 1500 employees in seven private and public sector organisations.

He added that the limitations of this study relate to its methodology and scope. In terms of methodology, the approach chosen was a quantitative data analysis based on sample responses from seven organisations. The inclusion of samples from more organisations may have improved representation of the population. The conceptual framework of the study was based on three constructs: human, organisational and social. Incorporating factors other than governmental, that were external to the organisations, may influence the interactions of variables and produce changes in the results.

In terms of scope, it is clear that the sole use of quantitative data analysis is not sufficient to approach the topic of Emiratisation. Impacts from the UAE economy, government policy and the GCC environment, which are all instrumental in drawing out aspects and conclusions. Similar studies in other UAE states are of use to confirm these findings and detect sectoral trends in work practices and the success of the government's renewed vigour in establishing Emiratisation. Other comparative studies can be extended to GCC countries that face similar labour issues to the UAE. Originally published by AME Info.

No response to “HR expert at Dubai Municipality suggests measures to boost Emiratisation”

Leave a Reply