Five questions to… Julian Panter

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Virtualcareerfair.ae, a job portal, was launched last May to support Emiratisation. The website, which is free for UAE nationals to join, has been positively received since its launch, partly because it is able to filter candidates based on experience, requirements or a desire to work in a specific field. An increasing number of companies are also signing up to the site, which is owned by Executive Solutions recruitment agency, looking for suitable Emirati candidates. Emirates Business spoke with Director Julian Panter to find out where the business is heading in 2010.


How has Virtual Career Fair grown since its launch?

We have been fortunate enough to have attracted nearly 3,000 UAE nationals who have all been interviewed. Each applicant's interview notes together with their CV is then placed in the database. We have also managed to sign up with some amazing organisations and prestigious companies. In the next month we will be signing further organisations and companies across the UAE that are committed to nationalisation.

How many people have found jobs through the website?

It's difficult to put a figure on how many nationals we have found jobs for as our original business plan was to allow companies/organisations access to the website at which point they contacted applicants directly. I know one of our clients has just recruited five graduates for one of their graduate schemes. We hope to attract up to 50 online exhibitors to the website early in 2010 and predict that each will recruit on average between five and 50 nationals this year.

How is it different from any other site?

We work very closely with our exhibitors to make sure we know all about their organisation and their requirements. Our real unique selling point is the time we spend with the candidates by interviewing every person.

How much did it cost to set up?

We have invested a fair amount of money in start-up costs including the web design, staff, marketing and, of course, time. The business is not a big money maker although we do charge a small fee for every UAE national employed, which is enough to cover our costs and ensure we are able to improve the business. We see the business as a perfect opportunity to help the UAE Government improve its nationalisation efforts. You could say we see it as a social and professional responsibility.

Do you have plans to expand it to the expatriate workforce?

No, as we want to become experts in this niche market. I am genuinely excited by the response we have had from firms that are serious about Emiratisation. There are also lots of amazingly bright UAE nationals that we interview who will make a real difference when they become gainfully employed.

 

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