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Native Workers in the UAE Still Avoid Working in the Private Sector


UAE : 20 July 2010

Recent data confirms that UAE nationals continue to prefer working for the public sector and avoid being involved in the private.  The government has called repeatedly for a shift in that trend but employee’s financial perks are much more prevalent in the public.

The Ministry of the Economy’s reported in a National Bureau of Statistics publication that the national workers represented only 7.4 per cent of the private sectors workers at the close of 2009.  Fully 64.6 per cent of that sector’s workforce was emigrants.

Meanwhile the report stated that the public sector is full of UAE nationals.  Almost 45.8 per cent are employed in government at the federal level.  Nearly 39.1 per cent are working in public departments at the local level and another six per cent are involved in institutions with both federal and local governments.

It was reported that the percentage of employed nationals in other sectors is extremely low.  Only 0.7 per cent are in domestic work, 0.6 per cent in foreign organizations and 0.3 per cent are working with private companies.

In an effort to reduce the amount of foreign workers in the UAE, the government has repeatedly asked citizens to move into the private sector, working in banking and other businesses.

However their urging has so far been ineffective.  The amount of national workers in the offices of the government has increased sharply.

The UAE’s private sector is just below that of Saudi Arabia, the largest in the Gulf.  Authorities believe that there are only a small percentage of UAE nationals working in this large market because the public sector has so many more advantages for them.  More money and benefits draw them in.

One expert noted that expatriates in the private sector will gladly work for less money, have more experience and put in extended hours.  This makes the private businesses look at them more favorably.  Add in the fact that many native workers won’t take junior positions or employment that requires hours in the open air or harsh physical labor and the low percentages make sense.

In contrast, the federal government and other public organizations at that level have a workforce of only 2.7 per cent expatriates.  Local governments maintain an amount at 12.2 per cent.  Joint federal-local public organizations report only 4.1 per cent of their workforce is emigrants.

Domestic work has also been a big draw for non-native workers.  The Ministry of Economy reports that almost 13.1 per cent of the foreign workforce in the emirate is employed in that sector.

Although the official findings do not state where these workers are originally from, knowledgeable sources said most maids and employees in the domestic sector come to the UAE from Asian countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lank and Indonesia.

Approximately 61 per cent of the nationals working the UAE are employed in public defense, security or administrative organizations.

Education is another sector that employs a high concentration of natives.  8.7 per cent of the total national workforce is involved in education, while transportation and communication covers about 5.9 per cent and the financial sector includes 4.6 per cent.  Fully 3.8 per cent are employed in real estate, 3 per cent in oil and gas and almost 2.9 per cent are health care and social workers.

Retail and wholesale took care of the largest portion of the foreign workforce, as that sector employed about 15.4 per cent of that group.  Besides domestic work, expatriates are also employed in construction as well as security and defense, manufacturing and some public administrative positions.

It was reported that many women across the emirate worked in service and market sales businesses.  Those sectors accounted for 50.7 per cent of all the women working in the UAE.

The report also showed that 17.4 per cent of the female workforce specializes in social and educational areas, 13.2 per cent are employed as clerks and 12.3 per cent work in the science and technology field as techs and professionals.

No women were employed in the farming and fishing industry.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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