Dh440m allocated for emiratisation drive

The Khalifa Fund has allocated Dh440 million to boost emiratisation drive in the UAE, according to the Labour Minister.

This fund should help support citizens to work in private sector, said Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Labour and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tanmia.

Ghobash said the Statute of the Fund's work is completed and will soon be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. The ministry is keen on activating emiratisation drive, he added.

Ghobash was speaking on the sidelines of a forum - 'Challenges facing emiratisation in UAE and the role of Khalifa Fund' - organised by the Federal Governmental Authority of Human Resources.

The minister said an integrated system of programmes and policies that will take into account long-and-short term challenges of the labour market is the need of the hour.

Similarly, corporate partnership between federal agencies and local communities and the private sector is crucial to boost employment opportunities among citizens.

Citing factors for the high rate of unemployment among nationals, Ghobash said it can be attributed to the demand of low-skilled foreign workers and the issue of multiple work permits.

Similarly education should be correlated to the needs of the labour market, he urged.

One of the obstacles of emiratisation is social insurance. The minister urged social insurance to be extended to private sector employees, which will encourage workers to move from public sector to the private sector.

The ministry has raised a memo to the Council of Ministers to review the obstacles of emiratisation. The minister said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has shown keen interest in the matter.

Meanwhile, a Labour Force Survey by the Ministry of Economy in 2009 revealed the differences in the advantages of working for government and private sectors. For instance, university graduates in the federal governmental departments earn up Dh21,500 monthly; and those in local governmental departments earn Dh26,900; while those in the private sector with the same qualification earn between Dh8,500 and Dh17,500.

Similarly, holidays vary. Annual holidays in the government sector range between 30 and 45 days, while private sector employees get only 30 days. Public holidays total up to up 14 days in the public sector and only 10 in the private sector.

Government sector employees work for six hours a day compared to eight hours put in by private sector staff. And while the former avail a two-day weekend most private sector workers get only one day weekly off.

MoL statistics also reveal the skill levels of employees. Of the 3.8 million expatriate workers, 50 per cent of them (1.9 million) come under skill level V and 29 per cent (1.2 million) are under skill level IV.

About 11 per cent (418,000) fall under skill level III; two per cent (76,000 workers) in skill level II; and seven per cent (266,000) under skill level 1.

The ministry has initiated a package of long and short-term policies. The first one is based on the rationalisation of bringing labourers from abroad with a focus on competencies and expertise, said Ghobash.

This step will run parallel with the promotion of freedom of movement between both sectors.

The active labour market policy adopted by Khalifa Fund will enable emiratisation at the rate of 5,000 citizens per year, he added. The policy also aims to train citizens to rise up to the demands of the labour market.

Ghobash said the classification system for the facilities of the private sector is part of the active labour market, and will contribute to support emiratisation.

Hamid Al Qatami, Minister of Education and Chairman of the Federal Government Authority Human Resources, said the Human Resources Club launched by the body last December at present has 1,400 participants in its monthly activities.

He said: "The club's activities are in line with Vision 2021 strategy."

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