A study shows UAE employers  still look to fill vacant positions with expatriates despite strong Emiratisation efforts by the federal government.
An independent study surveying 75 finance directors and Chief Financial Officers across the UAE conducted in June this year found that expatriate recruitment  will remain a central strategy of organisations for the foreseeable future.
The study comes in the “Year of Emiratisation” when the federal government has increased efforts creating employment opportunities for the national population.
Christopher Greaves, Managing Director at recruitment consultancy Hays — Gulf Region, said overall the majority of demand for Emirati employees  was coming from Abu Dhabi with government and semi-government positions.
Gareth Clayton, Director at recruitment consultancy Charterhouse Middle East, said that the banking and government-linked organisations are most aggressive in this drive.
However, while Emiratisation is a huge and sometimes exclusive focus, by and large, the private sector struggles to deliver the packages and training schemes put in place for Nationalisation, he said.
Despite the government commitment to generate employment opportunities for nationals, Greaves said foreigners are often flying to the UAE without a job offer , confident they will be offered a position within weeks of arriving.
Greaves said that some expatriates put themselves at an advantage amongst other candidates if they were already in the country however it was often dependent on the skills and experience required.
He said for mainstream roles, employers would prefer applicants who were employed in the UAE who had market knowledge and cultural understanding.
Clayton said the availability of candidates “on the ground” seems strong and abundant with clients looking for applicants with regional understanding and track record.
Greaves said many positions often required a strong contact list.
Since 2008, employers have had to manage tighter budgets and develop new methods to reduce costs.
Amid ongoing uncertainty in the global market and despite signs of a growing local economy, Clayton said that from a cost perspective it was always cheaper recruit locally and that he said was “very important” post-recession.
James Maidlow, Senior Manager for the UAE and Qatar at international HR consultancy Robert Half, said there was a level of local and international recruitment as employers looked to balance market and cultural knowledge with skills and experience.
Employers will look abroad for specific positions because of the knowledge and skills the applicant has developed working in a developed market, he said.