PwC Middle East Survey uncovers key hurdles in retaining Emirati talent
PwC Middle East has released its first-ever Emiratisation Survey, titled “The Retention Riddle: How to keep Emirati talent in the private sector”, shedding light on the efforts needed to boost Emirati representation in the UAE’s private-sector workforce. The survey, which included 500 nationals working in both the public and private sectors, as well as recent graduates, highlights the need for action to ensure the retention of Emirati talent and support sustained economic development.
One key finding of the survey is that while interest in private-sector employment among younger Emiratis is growing, many nationals ultimately choose to return to the public sector. In fact, two-thirds of Emiratis currently working in private-companies are considering such a move. To address this issue, private sector companies must take additional steps to enhance national talent retention and contribute to the UAE’s national vision of boosting Emirati representation in the private sector.
Khaled Bin Braik, Emiratisation Programme Leader at PwC Middle East, emphasised the importance of collective effort from both the public and private sectors to achieve the UAE’s shared vision and build a sustainable economic future. He called for collaboration to deliver on the ambitious goals of the nation.
The survey revolves around five key themes, including the need for change due to heavy reliance on expatriate workers in the UAE economy. Currently, expatriates make up 89 percent of the population and 92 percent of the workforce, while Emiratis account for only 4 percent of private sector employees.
Furthermore, the survey highlights the importance of driving nationalisation initiatives at scale, aiming to integrate 75,000 Emiratis into the private sector by 2026 through various measures such as policies, regulations, ups killing initiatives, incentives, and investments.
The survey also reveals that while over half of Emirati graduates express interest in joining the private sector, they perceive barriers to entry. Additionally, it points out that both public and private sector employees generally report satisfaction with their job experiences, learning and development opportunities, and career progression prospects.
However, private sector leaders are urged to play a more significant role in driving nationalisation, as the government has been the primary driver thus far. The survey outlines seven step for retaining Emirati nationals in the private sector.
Notable findings from the survey include the fact that 20 percent of Emiratis employed in the private sector are less satisfied with their compensation and benefits packages compared to their public sector counterparts. Additionally, 62 percent of Emirati graduates believe it is more challenging to secure employment in the private sector, but 61 percent still express interest in doing it. Moreover, two-thirds of Emiratis currently working in the private sector would consider switching to the public sector.
Given the UAE’s ongoing globalisation, digital and urban transformation, and focus on sustainability, the labour demand is evolving, creating the need for new skills while rendering some employment opportunities and skills obsolete. The Emiratisation Survey 2023 emphasises the importance of understanding and addressing the preconceptions and preferences of Emirati employees to break down traditional barriers and ensure long-term success in hiring.
PwC Middle East has made nationalisation a core part of its people strategy, aligning with its purpose of solving client problems and building trust. The firm’s “Watani” program, initiated in 2012, ensures UAE national representation across service lines and supports national talent at every stage of their careers through dedicated programs, client exchanges, and comprehensive training opportunities. As part of PwC Middle East’s New Equation strategy, the firm continuously up skills its workforce to foster a community of problem solvers equipped with both human-led and tech-powered solutions.