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UAE Public Sector Employees Transition to Private Firms

Published: 17 May 2024

According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the number of UAE nationals in the private sector has increased by 170% to 96,000 since 2021. This shift is driven by the similar timings, flexibility and pay now offered by both public and private sectors, as noted by senior Emirati officials. As a large employer in the region, Serco has also had a significant 73% increase in national employees joining the business since 2021 and this week accepted a NAFIS UAE Award from the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council in recognition of its 'exceptional efforts to empower Emirati talents and enhancing their efficiency during 2023'. 

Commenting on this news, Serco Middle East’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Hana Abu Kharmeh, said: 

The gap between the public and private sector is finally closing when it comes to employment opportunities for nationals. This is a major step forward for the private sector, of which the UAE government has been a key supporter. Whilst the public sector will continue to provide highly competitive renumeration packages, employees working in the private sector can enjoy many excellent developmental opportunities, training and quality working environments promising greater career growth, and purposeful employment.

In a recent study by staffing and human resources solutions company TASC Outsourcing, conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, 60 per cent of employed Emiratis said they were looking for roles that align with a better purpose, indicating a desire for meaningful work that contributes to personal and national development. Our experience at Serco, is reflective of this with a 73% increase in nationals employed in the business between 2021-2024, which we attribute in part to providing roles that create the opportunities for doing meaningful work. The more people that can impact a better future through their employment, the more we find them engaged within the business, leading to further longevity in their roles.

Going forward, it is crucial not only to attract more nationals into private sector roles, but to ensure they, like all our colleagues, enjoy a long, successful career within our business. For us here at Serco, this means offering continuous training and career development opportunities, access to the Serco Academy, mentorship, accelerator programmes, access to global subject matter experts, and international secondment opportunities.

While closing the gap entirely faces many challenges, it is promising to see the value that Emiratis are placing in working within our sector. We must now keep this momentum going – as a collective, building on our offering and culture and keep bringing the best-in-class training and career development opportunities to the table, so that we can keep attracting the best national talent the country has to offer for years to come. We will continue to work and align closely with the public sector, and we’re proud that as major employers in the UAE, we are creating diverse, highly trained nationalised workforces.

The increase in national employees at Serco in recent years is a testament to the competitive and supportive policies, as well as the diverse opportunities we offer. This year, we have already significantly surpassed our Emiratisation targets sevenfold, with initiatives to increase nationalisation on existing contracts and high recruitment targets across new projects. This includes increasing the number of female nationals in our business by 133% compared to 2022, and we aim to continue this success further into 2024 and beyond.

The insights and contributions of our Emirati employees have been instrumental in driving our success in the region.

“As a HR Manager, my work impacts a better future by focusing on the growth and retention of Emirati talent. By creating new positions specifically for UAE Nationals and offering competitive salaries, we set a high standard in our sector. This commitment to nurturing local talent supports individual career development and strengthens our national workforce, contributing to the broader economic and social progress of the UAE.” Latifa Alblooshi, HR Manager - Khadamat, Serco

“As a Communications Officer involved in social reach and volunteering activities, I like working for Serco because it allows me to engage with and contribute to the community. Serco's support for these initiatives enables me to make a positive impact, fostering stronger connections and making a difference in people's lives while advancing my professional development." Sara Aldarmaki, Communications Officer - Khadamat Serco