New authority to test workforce from 2012

Addressing a conference organised by the National Media Council as part of the 40th National Day celebrations, Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour, said that the National Qualification Authority that is awaiting Presidential approval will evaluate the qualifications of all new foreign workers from next year."The authority will be established next year after it is approved by the President. After the approval, the Cabinet will nominate its members who will immediately commence their work," said the minister.

Ghobash said the authority is being established to assure qualified manpower, including the unskilled workers, in the country. He said: "The authority will set qualification standards and evaluate the new workers’ skills. For instance, if a worker applies for a job in an establishment related to electricity, his or her qualification will be evaluated to check if it matches the standard set for that particular job. This will help to secure a well-qualified manpower that would benefit the country, its economy and productivity."

The minister also referred to the growth in foreign workforce over the last 10 years. He said expatriate workforce in the private sector has grown up from 1.829 million in 2001 to almost 3.9 million in 2010, adding that around two million of them are unskilled workers.

About Emiratisation, Ghobash said that efforts are being exerted to attract more UAE nationals to take up jobs in the private sector. The minister further revealed that almost 200,000 Emiratis are unemployed due to disparity in salaries and other perks offered between public and private sector establishments.

"The unemployed Emiratis are reluctant to take up jobs in the private sector because of lower salaries compared to public sector jobs. However, efforts are being made to encourage the youth to take up private sector jobs. There is a law that requires private sector establishments to employ a certain percentage of Emiratis in their organisations. And now many private companies are following the law," the minister explained.
About workers’ rights, Ghobash said the laws of the country fully protect workers’ rights, including those of the unskilled labourers.

"We have a wage protection system that assures workers are paid their salaries on time. Now all the wages have to go through banks or money exchange houses so that the provision of wages is monitored through electronic system that is linked to the Ministry of Labour," he added.

About recruitment agencies, the minister said a firm and tight regulation was in place that ensures labour contracts by employers and employment agencies are not violated and the contract terms and conditions are fully adhered to.

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