The UAE must use labour law to force the pace of Emiratisation, a Dubai lawmaker has told the country’s senior legislators – as the government’s HR department unveiled ambitious plans to boost local employment in the public sector.

Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member of the Federal National Council, said better enforcement of rules which give priority to Emiratis to fill positions in the private sector could help the UAE achieve full employment.

In comments addressed to Nasser Al Hameli – the minister of human resources and Emiratisation – Al Rahoumi said it was “invalid” for businesses to claim they could not find suitable Emiratis for private sector roles. He questioned why laws had not been enforced more stringently before this point.

“Many private companies and all government departments are run by citizens, and they have proved excellent and competitive at international levels,” he said in comments first reported by Gulf News.

The minister responded by pointing to recent initiatives which he said would create 15,000 new jobs for Emiratis by the end of 2018. In November, the ministry began offering incentives including discounts on labour permits for organisations that hired locals, reflecting the relatively slow pace of Emiratisation to date.

Meanwhile, the Dubai Government Human Resources Department (DGHR) announced the next tranche of its own Emiratisation efforts to encourage nationals to work across government. Abdulla Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, DGHR director general, said Emiratisation was a top priority as he announced plans targeted at introducing new skills into the public sector and identifying top performing employees.

New initiatives included Benaa – a new Masters scholarship programme – and My Dream, which will promote government roles to school and university students. The government would also increase employment among people of determination, he said.

Al Falasi also discussed a strengthened competency assessment centre to improve evaluation of employees, and promised further investment in skills, including new policies around education and training grants as well as the ability to leverage the knowledge of retiring employees.

Last year, the government said it was particularly interested in preparing young Emirati nationals for government leadership roles, as it introduced the UAE Youth Programme, targeting up to 200 young people each year with a range of leadership development training.

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