A recent study by recruitment firm GulfTalent.com found that 86 per cent of Emirati males and 66 per cent of females would prefer to work in the government sector after graduation.
Working in private sector firms was the choice of only four per cent of Emirati males and 10 per cent of females. This bias towards government jobs is due to better pay, larger benefits, shorter working hours, more holidays, good working conditions, the cultural fit and the presence of other Emiratis.
However, the mindset witnessed at the Career UAE job fair on May 1 offered a different insight.
For many Emirati attendees the fair was an opportunity to pursue private sector jobs with realistic salaries.
Underlying this outlook is the belief that the chance of securing a job in the government sector is growing slimmer, which has encouraged more Emiratis to turn to private firms.
This trend was evident in the large number of university students and fresh graduates at Career UAE who came to the event with an open mind, ready to embrace any company willing to make use of their talents.
Mejoud Almari, a student of Emirates Aviation College, was scouting for a job that would offer her a Dhs13,000 to Dhs14,000 salary. According to Almari, “Today the private sector companies are on par with the public sector as they offer good salaries and health benefits.”
“Our lifestyle is getting more expensive and we (Emiratis) are here looking for better opportunities, higher salaries, and bigger organisations to work in as that will help us keep up with other Emiratis, especially in Dubai,” said Jawaher Ahmed, a senior relationship manager employed with National Bonds. “Thankfully the private sectors firms are giving Emiratis a chance to work with them, which is a very good thing for us.”
Ahmed also felt that a multi-cultural workplace offered learning experiences. “I think it’s better to work with different nationalities in a particular sector. If you stick to working just with your own kind you can’t learn very much, but if you deal with different minds and thoughts you definitely learn more.”
Hessa Obaid Sultan, a first year finance student at Zayed University, was open to work in any field as a trainee and didn’t mind whether it was a government or private firm. Abdul Majeed, a second year finance student at Zayed University, was also willing to take up any job to gain work experience.
Abdullah Al Hashmi, a third-year finance student at Zayed University, was looking for a salary in the Dhs20,000 bracket. Al Hashmi, who is currently employed by the Emirates Identity Authority, was eager to try out other fields of work to improve his job profile.
Noora and Sadia from Zayed University were at Career Dubai looking purely for work experience. “We are not worried about salaries at the moment as we are students looking for work experience mostly,” said Noora. “I’ve read online that many interns find jobs at this event, so I’m here.”
Besides gaining experience and earning a salary, some Emiratis were targeting the private sector as working for a government sector was not an option.
“I’m unable to get a good conduct certificate that is required to apply for a job in the government sector,” said Fahad Al Sagaaf who has been working in a private firm for the past five years.
Al Saggaf was looking for any private sector job that would pay him a salary in the region of Dhs10,000 to Dhs15,000. He also had no problem working in a multi-cultural environment.
“It’s easy as I’ve studied in English schools. However, many times I’ve been envied by my colleagues as they feel that they are more educated than me but earning less than me because I’m an Emirati.” After a brief pause he added lightly, “but once they come to know you better and see your capabilities they start to respect you.”
The young generation of job seekers feels that waiting for a government job is no longer an option.
“I’ve applied at many government firms but haven’t received much response, so I’ve come here to register in any of the private sectors. I’m looking for a starting salary of Dhs14,000. I understand that in the private sector I’ll be expected to work longer hours, so I’ll work there for a short period and then look out for better opportunities,” said Sheikha Suwaidi, a business graduate from Dubai’s Women College who has been unemployed for the past two years.