Traditionally, the youths of the UAE were hesitant to begin their work life in the private sector. The reason was quite simple: government jobs in the nation offered far more appealing benefits and wages that the private sector did not. Government jobs also offered workers a sense of stability and security as public sector workers in the UAE are known to be well taken care of.

However, solely relying on the public sector can only get a country so far. A nation needs to have a strong and sturdy private sector as well if it wishes to develop a resilient economy. As such, the UAE government has been trying desperately for years to help make the private sector more attractive to workers, to mixed results.

In 2018, Emirati students have made it known that they remained unconvinced to pursue a career in the private sector despite government efforts to encourage them to move away from the traditional government jobs. The students often cited working conditions and benefits not matching those of government jobs as being one of the major factors deterring them from private sector work.

Surprisingly, the Emirati youths seem to have made a 180-turn this year with regards to willingness to work in the private sector. According to the Khaleej Times, when it comes to looking for job opportunities, young Emiratis are less likely to distinguish between government and private sectors. They are hungry to learn new skills and are capable to accept various challenges at workplace.

Earlier this year, the Careers UAE 2019 fair was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Many of the jobseekers present were fresh graduates who expressed to bias with regards to which sector they were willing to work in. Many even expressed favour towards the private sector specifically, eager to take up jobs in the ranks as long as it provided them with the opportunity to develop their potential further.

Over the past 12 years,  more than 13,000 Emiratis have accepted jobs in the private sector with the support of the National Workforce Development Programme. In an interview with Khaleej Times, Essa Al Mulla, chief of the National Workforce Development Programme at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said employers’ perception on taking UAE nationals for private sector jobs has changed over the recent years and that there were positive results about Emiratis being placed in the private sector.

“Our future plans are focused on reducing the number of unemployed persons and attracting Emirati nationals to work in different sectors including construction, health, education and logistics,” he added.

There has also been a noticeable increase in private sector firms’ willingness to work closer with the government and non-government entities towards developing a better workforce for the future. They agree that the best course of action to achieve this goal is through the recruitment of young Emirati workers, training them, and developing their skills.

The KHDA also noted that the most important thing now is educating Emiratis more about community development and engagement and preparing for new and future jobs that are currently not in the market so they are more competitive.


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