Young Emiratis think working for private companies is “inferior and unattractive” and one in four expect pay of more than Dhs25,000 per month for their first job. That’s the findings of a study into the employment  habits and aspirations of UAE nationals aged 18-23.
The research, by two lecturers at the UAE University, found that 10 percent of those quizzed expect a monthly salary of Dhs35,000 to Dhs50,000.
One male student said he would feel “stupid” to take a job that pays Dhs22,000 a month when two of his brothers make more than Dhs40,000 a month working for Abu Dhabi Police.
A female graduate said working for a private company would be like “signing my death paper” because of the reduced salary and longer hours. The study was funded by the Emirates Foundation, backed by the UAE government. The authors urge a balance in government and private sector wages to encourage young UAE nationals into the private sector.
Young people like these represent a big bottleneck in the UAE economy, according to the study. Ninety-eight percent of Emiratis  have government jobs and the pay and working conditions are so good that few want to work for private companies.
It is, according to the new study by researchers from the Business and Economics facility of UAE University in Al Ain, almost impossible for private companies to match the pay of government jobs.
This is a problem the UAE government has been seeking to correct for some time. A few months ago, it held a jobs fair in Abu Dhabi in an attempt to wean Emiratis off the massive and costly government sector. Not only is it a big drain on the public purse, it’s also stifling the UAE’s ability to compete - where are the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the UAE going to come from if Emiratis are far happier in comfortable government jobs?
The UAE University research, funded by the Emirates Foundation, found that young Emiratis had huge salary expectations and their view of what they should earn in companies was “unrealistic at best”. Thirty percent of them expect a salary of Dhs25,000 or more, while another 10 percent expect a whopping Dhs35,000 to Dhs50,000 per month.
The survey, of 30 Emirati men and 30 Emirati women aged 18 to 23 (average age 21) found that they had “uncompromising” views on working for private companies, which one young women said would be “signing my death warrant” because of the longer working hours and lower pay than in government jobs.
The authors recommend a better balance between government and private sector wages to encourage young Emiratis to try working for private companies.
One male graduate quizzed in the study said he thought it was he right to have a well-paid job. He said: “We are a rich country - thank God - and the government pays well because it can afford to do so.
“It is our right as nationals to have jobs that pay well.” So what do Emiratis think of the research? Is it fair and do they want to change the system? “It’s true and there needs to be change for boys,” says Amina Al Suwaidi who has one boy and one girl, both under the age of five.
“The boys need to be pushed into the private sector and come up with new things, new ideas. But for my daughter, like all mothers here, I want her to have a good company job so she will not be under pressure and can look after her own children.”
So the report is accurate?
“Yes, it is time for change, but not for the girls,” she said. “They need more time off and more stability so that their children are not raised by maids. “But for the boys, it is time for time to take over and learn new things. Change there can only be a good thing.”
Other comments from students in the study:
“Which Sheikh you work for makes a difference. In the private sector I would work for whom? Some low-ranking local or a foreigner...” - Male graduate “Three of my brothers started in Abu Dhabi Police two years ago, two of them make more than Dhs40,000 now. How would I feel if I took the job offer I received for Dhs22,000? I would feel stupid.” - Male student
“[Private companies] let you wait for a long time after the interview before they give you a response” - Female graduate