Challenges in UAE’s labour market discussed




Dr Gargash said in his opening remarks that the objective of organising the workshop was to generate debate, new ideas and policy recommendations. A key objective was also to bring together different experts and government officials working on this issue to discuss various perspectives on the labour market from both a local and federal viewpoint.

McKinsey & Company collaborated with the ministry on devising the workshop agenda and gave a presentation on labour market reform in the GCC. Presentations were also made by the Dubai School of Government on the need for an integrated approach to policy making and by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on stimulating labour market reform within a federal system of government.

Discussions highlighted that the UAE is a unique case due to the demographic imbalance, strong segmentation in society and high job expectations from UAE nationals entering the job market. It was agreed that an integrated policy on labour market reform should be developed based on a sustainable, long-term vision for the country and its people.

Key questions were tabled for the consideration of policy makers, including the need for a strategy on what type of society the UAE aims to achieve over the next 20 years in terms of its economy and societal make-up. The country needs to develop a long-term vision and outline steps to develop a capital intensive economy and avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ caused by dependence on low-skilled, low-wage labour. Human capital development requires creative and multi-disciplinary approaches within a “package of complementary policies.”

Participants said that the lack of robust labour market data is an obstacle to achieving consensus on problems and developing solutions. Policy makers must embark on a review of existing laws and regulations and an analysis of both national and local market dynamics and their interrelationship.

Finally, participants stressed that economic growth must be linked to ensuring social protections for all and encouraging the emergence of an Emirati middle class.



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