Emiratisation in FM

Rebecca Coleman on attracting nationals into the FM sector

Rebecca Coleman
Rebecca Coleman

With the rapid economic growth witnessed in the 1980s and 1990s, the UAE had to look internationally for talent to sustain its growth.

Since then, the UAE has become one of the fastest growing economies in the region, with the expatriate population reaching over 80% of the total population; the lowest proportion of natives to overall population within the GCC.

Not only does this illustrate a critical demographic imbalance, but it can also have long-term political, economical and social consequences. To offset the ever-increasing expatriate population, many countries across the GCC have introduced successful nationalisation programmes, with the UAE introducing ‘Emiratisation’.

Emiratisation is a strategic initiative that was developed and introduced by the UAE government, where the main focus of the programme is to create a sustainable economy, decrease the country’s reliance on expatriate workers, reduce the critical skills gap between education and what is required by the private sector, and increase participation amongst UAE nationals.

This would raise the employment standards amongst nationals, ultimately reducing the unemployment rate within the UAE, which in 2011 stood at 14% of the total national population.

Although this initiative was implemented over 10 years ago, it has made little impact on the private sector, with the UAE Labour Force Survey of 2011 revealing that only 7% of the total national workforce are employed within the private sector.

This public-private sector imbalance can be due to a number of factors which directly impact the FM industry.

These include the distinct gap between the skills gained through education and those required by the FM market, and the numerous benefits and secure nature of the public sector, which makes it very difficult for the FM industry to compete in the war for local talent and hit the Emiratisation target of 15%.

According to the 2009 UAE Labour Force Survey, the average monthly salary for a university graduate in the public sector was AED 24,200, compared to between AED 8,500 and AED 17,500 in the private sector.

The public sector enjoys a six-hour work day with two days off per week, whilst the private sector works an average of eight hours per day with only one day off.

The public sector also receives more paid leave days and official public holidays. To overcome this imbalance, the private sector must go above and beyond to entice UAE nationals from the public sector by providing professional development, career progression and job security.

Engineering graduates are recruited on the basis of their suitability to meet the pre-defined requirements and specifications of the job and are enrolled into the our six month intensive graduate programme.

EFS’ aim is to recruit and develop 12 Emirati graduates annually — four in Abu Dhabi, four in Al Ain and four in Dubai. The programme combines classroom learning with on-the-job training covering modules from finance for FM and contracts and managing suppliers, to FM technology and project management.

To support the classroom learning, graduates undertake a placement in each department from finance and human resources to IT and procurement, to achieve a greater understanding of how each department functions in practice.

Each graduate has the opportunity to shadow senior and executive management in their everyday tasks so they can be coached and mentored by those who have experience in the FM industry.

As 2013 begins, the FM industry and private sector has a new year in hand to tempt the UAE nationals away from the public sector.

By providing the essential elements of defined career progression paths and relevant learning and development opportunities, the private sector has the ability to become a strong competitor in the war for talent.

About the author
Rebecca Coleman is HR manager for EFS Facilities Services

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