The future of Emirati employment is about innovation and self-employment, a top government official has told Khaleej Times.
Essa Al Mulla, chief of the National Workforce Development, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) made the comments to the newspaper at the Government Human Resources Summit in Abu Dhabi earlier this week.
Al Mulla said the biggest challenge today was not unemployment, but competition for available jobs and a level of pay which candidates are happy with.
“Young people need to change from the thought of being employed in government departments or [the] private sector and focus on starting their own work or businesses," he was quoted as saying. "The future for Emiratis is innovation and self-employment. Parents should encourage and nurture youngsters into entrepreneurs and not job seekers."
He said the government was keen to support young Emiratis who have ambitions to be entrepreneurs by equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge they need to start a business.
The idea of entrepreneurship is becoming more and more appealing to Emiratis, if recent studies are anything to go by. The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has financed more than 375 projects, worth AED 700 million, for citizens looking to start up an SME since its inception in 2007.
Last year’s Entrepreneurship in the Mena report, from Bayt.com and YouGov, suggested that 71 per cent of respondents would prefer to be self-employed if they could – a figure that peaks at 73 per cent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
This represented a surprising increase on the same survey in 2013, when the figures were 47 per cent for the UAE and 42 per cent in KSA. The reasons for the appeal of self-employment are the belief that it offers personal fulfilment, the freedom to achieve a better work-life balance and the ability for individuals to be their own boss.
There are, however, a number of key barriers to self-employment. One is start-up finance, with 48 per cent of survey respondents citing it as the reason they have not become entrepreneurs so far. They were also uncertain whether they would be able to generate sufficient income.
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