Speaking on the sidelines of the Emirati Women Leaders Panel at Careers UAE last week, Hessa Al Ghurair, head of human resources at Tanfeeth, said Emiratis should seek work in the private sector for long-term advantage.
“The first ten years after college is your learning period and after that you can demand your terms,” she said.
Fellow panelist, Mariam Matar, founder and board chairperson of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, said: “They (Emiratis) will be lucky to be in the private sector because they will get a chance to learn from the different experts from various parts of the world – who have tailored their expertise to suit the needs of this country – on a daily basis. This day-to-day training is something that you will not get even in the best college,” she said.
Al Ghurair added: “Just because a company will pay you a higher salary on demand, it does not mean that it will prepare you for success. You have to start at A to reach B as there is a reason why your parents put you through kindergarten before college.”
Al Ghurair said that the Emirati youth is used to the fast-paced lifestyle and accordingly expects the same when looking for jobs.
“Fat salaries and fancy titles will come but opportunities for development do not come everyday,” said Al Ghurair.
Dr. Matar emphasises that the real goal of Emiratisation will only be fulfilled if the Emiratis learn the skills and lessons necessary to survive in a tough economic condition rather than just placing them in any position in the workforce.
“I believe it is critical to choose the right Emirati to be in a leading position otherwise it will not have a good impact on Emiratis in lead positions,” she said.
Both experts urged the Emirati youth to cast aside reservations about inadequate pay and culture incompatibility in the private sector and seek long-term benefits like learning survival skills in a competitive environment and experiencing the cultural diversity that the private sector offers.
“Go to the company that will invest time and effort in training you,” advised Al Ghurair “Even if it takes a long time, you (youth) will be grateful to those who trained you when you reach a senior position.”
Dr. Matar refused to name cultural prejudice as one of the reasons that Emiratis may be wary of the private sector. She said that the working atmosphere in the UAE favours the Emiratis.
“Take it up as a challenge,” she said, specifically addressing women “This is your country and if you cannot adjust in this country you will not be able to do so anywhere else.”
Al Ghurair said all young and ambitious Emiratis must keep in mind three things:
“Firstly, be patient. Managerial positions and fancy titles will come to you in time and after some experience. Secondly, choose a mentor in your field who can guide you throughout your career and finally pick a company that will provide career progression over a fat salary and a fancy title,”she said.