Implementation and Success of Emiratisation
Emiratisation is not just about reaching ‘quotas;’ indeed the use of quotas is only one of several policies of the Emiratisation project and therefore the nationalization project include a number of Shah’s policies to influence supply and demand (Mashood et al. , 2009). According to Shah (2006), policies aimed at affecting the supply of workers include policies that affect the cost of living (such as of health insurance policies and verification of university degrees), apprehension and deportation of illegal immigrants, stricter regulation of visa issuance, and restrictions on visa trading.
Policies aimed at affecting the demand for local workers include policies on creating job opportunities through training, through market based measures (such as charging fees for hiring expatriates and providing cash benefits for employing nationals), and nationalisation through administrative measures (such as quotas and bans). Overall, as Forstenlechner (2008) discussed, the government has targeted jobs in banking, insurance and hospitality sectors, as well as jobs of HR Managers, secretaries, and public relations officers for Emiratisation.
However, the McKinsey & Co. and MFNCA report (2007) suggested the UAE make immigration policy more rigid and labour market regulations less rigid by, for example, providing more investment in human capital and less protection against termination. This, the report suggested, will stimulate employers to hire UAE nationals. On advice from international organisations, Emiratisation was first implemented through structural reform, rather than specific measures (Al-Ali 2008).
Nonetheless, initiatives to accelerate education reform, implement education-to-employment programmes, and finance private sector organisations to employ and then train locals have not proven successful (Mashood et al 2009, Forstenlechner 2008, Godwin 2006) There are many reasons for this, including a widely held view that the authorities have insufficient coercive powers to implement the policy (Al-Ali 2008).
Overall, Randeree (2009: 76) concludes that “Emiratisation to date has been largely unsuccessful” and that: A re-examination of policy in the UAE based on the reality of the situation is needed, to culminate in the production of a strategy that reflects the real needs for the nation, rather than achieving Emiratisation through the imposition of targets and quotas based on false expectations (Randeree 2009: 78).
The most significant obstacles to Emiratisation in the workforce as perceived by the 17 senior managers in the field of human resource or with similar expertise interviewed by Al-Ali (2006) were the lack of career development prospects, relatively lower standards of education among the nationals, low wage, little or no training and promotion, lack of English language proficiency, and lack of trust in the competence of Emirati nationals. He also identified other obstacles, such as absence of a work culture, attitude to work, and gender issues, which are also important factors in increasing the participation of nationals in the workforce.
In general, nationals prefer to work in public sector organisations because these are seen as more secure and rewarding, and there are fewer obstacles such as lack of career development prospects (Al-Ali 2008). To this point, then, the literature reviewed indicates the factors leading to the ineffectiveness of the Emiratisation policy. Further research will examine the focal point of the study in more detail: the impact of Emiratisation on HR strategies and the reasons for the ineffectiveness or failure of the policy