The gap between locals and expatriates in the GCC workforce has remained huge with the expatriates recording a dominating presence in virtually all job categories, according to a report by TalentRepublic.net, a regional recruitment company. The report prepared by TalentRepublic.net’s research department reveals that up to 58 per cent of the GCC's workforce is made up of expatriates.
Talent Republic.net also cited a Madar Research study which shows that 87 per of the UAE workforce are expatriates. The same trend is echoed in most of the GCC countries, particularly Qatar which has the same local-expatriate workforce ratio as the UAE. Kuwait likewise has a much larger expat workforce population, accounting for 69 per cent of all workers in the country, while the local workforce in Bahrain barely outnumber their expatriate counterparts at 51 per cent. TalentRepublic.net revealed that Oman and Saudi Arabia are the only countries in the GCC that have a significantly higher local workforce compared with expatriate workers at 70 per cent and 73 per cent respectively.
Much like in other GCC countries, the UAE Government has been aggressively pushing for its Emiratisation program, which aims to increase the number of qualified UAE workers in the job market. However, TalentRepublic.net pointed out that with the bulk of UAE nationals being absorbed almost exclusively in the public sector, the local job market will remain dominated by a growing expatriate population.
The report emphasised the crucial role of the private sector in the GCC countries in complementing the governments’ efforts to boost local participation in the job market. TalentRepublic.net pointed out that the governments could implement policies and create incentives that will encourage private businesses to aggressively hire locals. On the other hand, local workers must also be encouraged to actively pursue various career prospects in the private sector.
The report recognised the efforts of the regional governments to boost the quality of the local workforce as an important step in this process. The establishment of world-class educational facilities, the opening of prestigious academic programs and various career and leadership development initiatives organised by the government have significantly helped raise the quality of graduates in the region and improved the competency of the local workforce.
On the other hand, a key inhibiting factor, according to TalentRepublic.net, is the prevailing attitude within both the private sector and the local workforce. Highly competent and qualified nationals often find the work environment in the private sector unattractive because of various factors such as a perceived inferior pay-scale, prompting most of them to look for opportunities in the public sector instead. On the other hand, private companies are generally embracing the status quo by continuously hiring expats over locals primarily because of the lack of information about the vast improvements in the competency of the local workforce.
A wide-scale awareness campaign that will reach practically all segments of the private sector will help stimulate interest in the local workforce. The campaign will need to focus on the strategic benefits of hiring locals, TalentRepublic.net revealed. Similar information drives must also be launched to highlight the economic incentives being offered to private companies that make UAE nationals their first choice as employees.
The TalentRepublic.net report concluded that increasing the adoption of local professional workforce in the private sector will play a critical role in achieving a sustainable economic development for the UAE. It further stated that available jobs in the public sector will not be sufficient to accommodate the rapidly growing number of UAE professional workers, particularly on account of the growing number of local graduates, making it crucially important to establish new gateways for locals to be absorbed in the private sector.