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UAE rolls out AED24 billion private sector Emirati Competitiveness Programme

The United Arab Emirates today unveiled a sweeping programme of reforms and financial incentives to drive new private sector opportunities for both young and experienced Emiratis, with an investment of AED24 billion to create 75,000 new private sector jobs for Emiratis.

The new announcements include grants for students and fresh graduates to take up private sector roles, an AED1 billion graduate business development fund, a government-backed new private sector child allowance and unemployment benefit, as well as career break and early retirement schemes for Federal government employees starting new businesses.

“A decent life for our citizens, their children and the generations to come remains our greatest priority,” said President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “Working with the private sector to enhance career prospects is the way to ensure that those opportunities endure for decades to come.”

Announcing the new initiatives, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said, “As we mark our fiftieth year as a nation, we are evolving from building world-class national infrastructure to creating brilliant sources of value and human capital. Our people are our pride and our future and we are investing to build the ideas and aspirations of our youth to create new futures in our successful business, trade and knowledge economy.”

The programme will be managed by the newly created Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, a body chaired by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, with the aim of building private sector partnerships to drive 75,000 new jobs for Emiratis.

The initiatives include the Emirati Salary Support Scheme, a one-year salary support of up to AED 8,000 per month paid to Emiratis to incentivise the recruitment and training of graduates in private sector companies. A monthly support of up to AED 5,000 will be paid for up to five years. Both sets of salary support schemes are subject to certain terms and are based on a range of defined target salaries.

The Merit Programme gives a monthly AED5,000 top-up to Emirati workers in specialised fields, including nurses, accountants and financial auditors, commercial lawyers, financial analysts and coders; the Pension Programme provides a subsidised five-year government-paid contribution on the company’s behalf against the cost of pension plans for Emirati staff and full support for the Emirati’s contribution across the first five years of their employment.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said, “Empowering our people is at the core of our plans for the future.” He noted that the government programme aims to strengthen the participation of highly qualified Emirati talents in the private sector, which plays a pivotal part in the UAE’s development towards the future.

Sheikh Mohamed added, “We believe in the determination of our citizens to build the region’s most competitive economy.”

Private sector companies will be able to build the Emirati contribution to their workforce over time. Focused on placing Emiratis in the private sector, the effort will start with a target of 2 percent Emiratis in skilled roles contribution rising in scale to a 10 percent Emirati contribution over the coming five years.

Vocational training and development programmes, include the Talent Programme, an AED1.25 billion investment in developing specialised vocational skills for Emiratis, with internationally recognised certifications in property management, accounting and business management and the Apprentice Programme , a train-to-hire initiative to build vocational training for Emiratis in private and semi-private companies with a range of financial awards across a number of business sectors.

An AED1 billion Graduate Fund is to be dedicated to giving microloans to final year university students and fresh graduates in order to support them in exploring new business startups. The scheme will be implemented in collaboration with UAE universities.

The National Healthcare Programme is an educational grant programme that targets the development of 10,000 Emirati healthcare workers within the coming five years, rolling out a Graduate Healthcare Assistant Programme, a Higher Diploma in Emergency Medicine and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The Programme is supported and led by Fatima College of Health Sciences and the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET).

Alongside the incentive programmes, the Council will also roll out two important new financial support initiatives for Emiratis: the Private Sector Child Allowance Scheme and a new unemployment benefit for Emiratis in the private sector. The Private Sector Child Allowance Scheme, the first childcare allowance in the Emirates, is a monthly grant made to Emirati staff working in the private sector of up to AED800 per child up to a maximum of AED 3,200 per month to help with the costs of childcare up to the age of 21. A new scheme will support Unemployment Benefit to be paid to Emiratis working in the private sector who lose their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control, giving them a 6-month period to find another position.

Two new programmes are aimed at encouraging Emiratis with established careers in Federal Government to join the private sector. The Startup Break initiative will begin in 2022 and provide a subsidised career break for Emiratis in Federal Government positions to start a business of between 6-12 months, covering 50 percent of the employee’s salary. In addition, an Early Retirement Scheme will provide an opportunity for Emiratis in Federal Government positions to explore new business opportunities and take early retirement to start a new private sector business while retaining their full pension entitlement.

Alternatively, they can elect to receive a lump sum golden handshake payment. Both schemes will be open to a limited number of staff each year with employer approval.

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