There has been an increasingly competitive talent attraction landscape amongst U.A.E businesses for some time now, with many companies, particularly in the private sector, struggling to recruit enough Emirati nationals to fulfil goals laid out by the government. Gavin Smith, Managing Director of ReThink MEA, a specialist recruiter in the region, has highlighted how organisations can achieve this:
1) Build talent pipelines for the future…and start now – If a business is serious about meeting Emiratisation targets, there’s no better time to start developing talent pipelines than now. Doing so can aid an organisation in securing a healthy long-term stream of talented professionals into the workforce. Etihad is a perfect example of this. The airline recognised that there simply weren’t enough locals with the required skills so it looked to develop the talent from the ground up. At the start of the project the local element of the workforce stood at around 2% and by 2013 had risen to 22%. So if businesses are serious about meeting targets, get started right away.
2) Compete on pay and benefits – Currently, many government organisations offer very attractive packages to nationals. And unfortunately there’s no ‘clever’ solution to this for the private sector. If companies want to compete for Emirati talent they simply have to develop employment offerings that at least match that of public sector organisations. Paying higher salaries is one factor that can entice nationals to join but businesses should also be creative when it comes to offering different benefits and flexible working hours.
3) Use your expats more imaginatively – With such a large expat community in the region and with so many professionals holding powerful positions in commerce and industry, it seems a waste not to utilise them to their full extent. Why not follow the example of China where foreign talent is not only taken on to fulfil business-critical roles but also to train, shape and develop national talent and, ultimately, pass on their skills? By allowing Emiratis to shadow and learn from expats, organisations have a greater chance of keeping skill sets in the country once these professionals return home.
4) Fully integrate the locals – If firms want to secure Emirati professionals and make them feel valuable it’s absolutely crucial to integrate them fully into business operations. This means not just employing them in the U.A.E but also allowing them to experience international opportunities and take part in learning and development initiatives. By doing this it’s more likely the individual will feel more like a valued part of the organisation, rather than just being there to meet quotas.
5) Don’t compromise on talent – Which leads on to the final point, don’t hire a national for the sake of it. Talent is the most important part of any organisation and it’s therefore vital to get recruitment strategies right. Regardless of the situation businesses shouldn’t just hire on the basis of tokenism. Doing so can jeopardise the future success of the organisation. By developing a longer term process, in a similar way to Etihad, companies will have a greater chance of securing talent who can both aid their growth and help to meet Emiratisation targets.