Localisation quotas in the Gulf should still be on the radar of expats

eFinancialCareers recently surveyed 355 financial services professionals to better understand the state of localisation programs happening in the Gulf. These localisation quotas state that most financial services organisations, along with every other private sector firm, should be looking to hit a quota ensuring that around 40% of the workforce are local nationals.

The results of the survey found that 42% of respondents hadn’t yet been able to fulfil the quota and 45% stated that Emiratisation was not adding any value to their business. Private sector firms are finding it hard to compete with well payed public sector jobs which is greatly limiting the supply of candidates. Whilst in the past companies have thrown cash at the problem to convince locals to join or stay in a job this has resulted job-hopping.

The growth of these localisation plans has led to companies firing expats and replacing them with a talented local candidate though given the shortages of local candidates this isn’t always easy as well as the previously mentioned issue of job-hopping for talented individuals. Though these programs should be a concern to expatriates in the region at the moment there simply aren’t enough suitable locals to go around and there are questions as to whether companies are hiring people purely to complete a ‘box ticking’ program.

Such is the demand for talented locals that Emiratis branch managers in the UAE can earn up $200k with Standard Chartered stating that 100% of its branch managers are locals verses 42% across all its staff in the region. Though these quotas aren’t being seen generally as a bad thing there are plans to increases quotas further by 2021 which will but further pressure on companies (who are hoping graduate schemes will help fill the void) but also expats in the region. A potential stumbling block of these desires though is the potential plan to introduce compulsory military service across the UAE and Qatar for men between 18 – 30 years old. Those who have finished high school will serve 9 months and those who haven’t 2 years. Whether this will help expatriate job market is yet to be seen.