Through a scholarships and training programme called Nafis, the United Arab Emirates offers a portal to connect university graduates and other job seekers with opportunities offered by thousands of companies across sectors.
Nafis is formally known as the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council. Since the Emirates launched the programme last year, some 3,209 companies have registered on its portal. A surge in the number of employers joining Nafis as partners between mid-June and mid-September helped account for that total, which is almost three times the number registered before.
The programme’s overarching goal is to enable Emirati citizens to fill 75,000 private-sector jobs during the next five years, Shamma Mohammed, the platform’s communication officer, told Al-Fanar Media.
Mohammed said the programme’s benefits included training and support initiatives that will help Emirati students and workers develop competencies in specialised fields and obtain international professional certificates.
As an example, she cited the Healthcare Development Programme, which provides scholarships to support Emiratis to become nurses and other healthcare workers. The programme supports students who seek a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a healthcare assistant diploma, or a higher diploma in emergency medicine.
Another initiative, called “Khebra” (“Experience”), provides up to 12 months of training for university and high school graduates at private and semi-governmental companies, and pays participants an allowance during their training. The programme aims to help Emirati graduates acquire experiences that qualify them for good jobs in various fields in the private sector.
“The government program aims to enable citizens to fill 75,000 jobs during the next five years, through partnerships between the public and private sectors.”Shamma Mohammed, the Nafis platform’s communication officer
Another Nafis initiative provides career guidance and counselling for university students. It helps them discover the appropriate skills, opportunities, and career paths, in addition to guidelines on how to write a CV, interviewing basics, and work ethics.
Nafis is cooperating with academic partners to carry out the Healthcare Development Programme, Mohammed said.
They include the Center for Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT), which is part of the Higher Colleges of Technology, the Fatima College of Health Sciences, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
Nafis also cooperates with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Academy, the Federal Youth Authority, and a number of private companies, she added, noting that all programmes are implemented under the supervision of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council.
While Nafis’s scholarship and training benefits are for Emirati citizens only, Mohammed said that companies based in other nations can participate if they wish to offer jobs or training programmes on the platform.
Emiratis who wish to take advantage of the platform can register from here. The platform is open to students, graduates, and job seekers between the ages of 18 and 60.
Nafis provides several financial and lifestyle-related advantages to Emiratis who pursue a career in the private sector, the programme’s organisers said. These include a salary support plan that will top up workers’ salaries during their training and first years of employment, and six months of temporary support for Emiratis who lose a job in the private sector “for reasons beyond the employee’s control”.
Other benefits for Emirati nationals working in the private sector include a child-care allowance for employees with families and a subsidy against pension plan contributions for five years for those whose earnings fall below a specified threshold.
The programme targets workers in distinct specialisations, such as programmers, nurses, accountants, auditors, and data scientists, among others.
Linking Graduates to Jobs
Ahmed Alamoush, a professor of sociology at the University of Sharjah, said the programme aims to improve the quality and experience of Emirati graduates and link them to the local, regional and international labour market.
Emirati citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 can register for the programme’s scholarship and training benefits. Companies based in other countries are welcome to offer jobs or training programmes on the platform.
Alamoush believes that the initiative can inspire the Arab world, as an online social platform that enhances opportunities for young people and helps to integrate them into the socioeconomic life.
Tamer Ahmed, an Egyptian recruitment and training consultant, thinks the platform, as an Emirati government idea, aims to expand the scope of job opportunities for Emirati nationals at private companies operating in the Emirates, as most of those jobs have been held by foreign workers in the past.
Ahmed told Al-Fanar Media that online employment platforms must focus on the requirements of the labour market, to transfer them to students at universities and recent graduates.
“Transferring the skills required for new jobs to the academic community requires work to develop students’ abilities,” said Ahmed. “This will help them enhance their career opportunities after graduation, especially with the dwindling of opportunities for traditional majors.”
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Read more about how Arab governments and higher-education institutions are trying to prepare students for jobs of the future in Employment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s coverage of this topic.