1. What and why is ONE biggest gap in HRM on paper that has not met up with HRM in practice?
Being highly diversified, UAE isconfronted with several human resource challenges in the specific area of naturalization and/or expatriate wrokers. Most of the workers are not solely UAE nationals. They are composed of several Arab groups and other Asian groups such as Indians, Filipinos, Iranians, etc. They also have British and American expatriates.
The National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority or “Tanmia” (Randeree & Chaudhry, 2007, p. 225) shows the central issue in naturalisation among the UAE workforce. It reported that in 2006, there were just less than two percent (2%) UAE nationals in the majority of the workforce employed in the private sector. Thus, the naturalisation law is carried out through the Ministerial Decision No. (43) of 2005 which mandated the commercial (both public and private) sectors in the UAE to fulfill a yearly naturalization or Emiratisation target of four percemt (4%). (ADTC Website, 2011, p. 1)
Being one of the biggest telecommunications companies globally and the number one telecommunications company in the Middle East (as stationed in the UAE), Etisalat accepted the naturalisation mandate with high goals for its workforce. According to its website profile (Etisalat Website, 2011, p. 1), Etisalat maintains operation in at least 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It is actually servicing more than 10 million cleints from its 1.9 billion audience worldwide. (p. 1) It offers a comprehensive telecommunications services to individual and corporate users, including content providers and mobile service providers. This has been a telecommunications brand and a major hub in the Middle East due to its extensive and global network services. Etisalat is even the 12th bigegst voice carrier globally. (p. 1) This company boasts of an annual gross income of AED 30.831billion and net income of AED 8.836 billion which shows a remarkable five percent (5%) and sixteen percent (16%) increase in its sales perfomance compared with the previous year. (p. 1)
Its Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Abdul Aziz Al Sawaleh, prides the company’s commitment to the nationalization efforts. (“Etisalat Participates at Sharjah National Career Fair,” 2010, p. 1) They want to emphasize the significance of recruting the best ad the rightest national talents. To compliment this, it is said that the telecomms giant gives special attention and care to its personnel. Etisalat asserts that their employees are their number one asset. Hence, they organize job hunts and training programs, special classes for Emirati graduates, and workshops.
Press has it that the company follows an adherence to the Emiratisation policy and has gathered positive outcomes from this move. It is counted as one of the major UEA companies which provide the Emiratis or the UAE nationals with important work opportunities. It is said to recruit and train a large chunk of Emirati employees every year. In 2010, there were more than 3,600 company employees that are UAE nationals. The news also said that thirty six (36) percent of the total company employees and ninety five (95) percent of the senior management members come from the said emirates. (p. 1)
However, this is not the real scene in the global telecomunications company. While it is owned by the UAE government, both expatriates and nationals hold key postions in the Etisalat management board. Hence, it is not true that a 95% emiratis compose its senior management board. As one case in point, the General Manager of its Academy is a British expatriate named as David Brennan. (Etisalat Website, 2011, p. 1) One can also deduce from its human resource strategies and direction that it is going global in terms of recruitment and training and not the other way towards Emiratisation or naturalization.
Their idea of talent development is tied up with its leading research from Aon Hewitt. This critical research is anchored on the development of the expatriate talents vis a vis nationals as they disperse in the gulf area regions. The Etisalat Academy gears up with various training and development programs in various human resource aspects such as recruitment, team building, etc. It does not stress the naturalization of its employees in any of its major human resource programs.
According to Cameron (2003, p. 2) while Emiratisation has started way back the 1990’s, it has been only formalized in the administrative levels, to date. This is achieved by imposing an employment quota targets in the varous targetted sectors such as banking and finance. This is also done through the naturalization of certain positions i.e. the HR managers and administrative assistants.
Oneof the major hindrance is the issue of the demographic imbalancein UAE. (p. 2) Its population is strongly inclined to the tendencies ofr expatriates workers than the locals. (Al Bayan, 2008, p. 1) This issue is compounded by several other issues such as the following: the natinals have been more selective with their employment as compared to the expatriates who will take on any job; the scarcity of the local male population which makes the human reosurce imbalanced; and the leniency of the local laws and regulations which allow the UAE employers to handle their expatritae employees more strongly than the local hires. Lastly, the work performance of the nationals have not also kept up with those of the expatriate workers. (Randeree, 2009, p. 90)
2. What is your suggestion to close that gap?
Nationalisation of the human resource is a political goal of all the Arab nations, especially by the Saudi Arabian government, the UAE government, the Qatari government and the likes. Although, this policy must be reviewed for its advantages and disadvantages. This program has been marked by various dissentions and controversies. There are also some contradictions to it.
One insurmountable truth about the workforce in the United Arab Emirates is that it is comprised mainly by foreign workers. Also, the demographic imbalance is also caused by the high presence of women in the work force. (Ibid.) Within various HR issue sand challenges, the UAE government must deliberately confront the said issue with greater fervor and political will.
In order to close this gap, I suggest that the UAE government be firm about its naturalization program. They do not necessarily need to be formal and legal about it, they have to be more creative in their admonishment of the UAE companies, especially the major ones, to be more willing to employ their locals than the foreign workers and expatriates. They have to approach human resource management with a more competitve advantage. Their new HRM model should take into account the demographic imbalance in the emirate and it must also acknowledge the global economy which shapes the human resource challenges and issues nowadays. (Human Resource Environment, Legal Environment and HES Module, 2010, p. 5)
In this regard, let us first make some background ideas in this proposal. In deeper analysis, the UAE government must not highly pursue naturalization because they must recognize that a global economy is more competitive by having a multicultural workforce. This is seen by many European countries which are more liberal about their foreign workers. Hence, they must devise a system or laws and policies which accept foreign workers and expatriates but are not detrimental to their local employment resource. (Randeree, 2009, p. 90) Their main issue is how to have expatriates and foreign workers as compettive as their local employees.
Secondly, the UAE government must also produce more competitive employees. Thirdly, they must offer an attractive program which can interest local hires i.e. competitive salaries and benefit schemes. Education and its problems must be addressed in order to ensure that the emirate is producing highly competiitve and world class employees.
Hence, their national human resource must be able to produce a vibrant human resource which can contribute to their progress and change. Their graduates must have the necessary skills, knowledge and values which wil enable them to be compettive in the world labor market. As we al know the labor markets have moved from being local to a more global nature.
If the UAE graduates are not receptive to the changing needs of the global labour market, then they will be left ehind. Also, this means that more foreign workers will be chosen against them. They must also be adept with the technological and information skills advances which are now very available and accessible. This will aid them in their employment success.
The laws must also be changed in defense of the expatriates. Inhindsight, this will enable the locals to be more attuned to the human reosurce needs and issues of their own country and slowly adopt and adjust their cultures to fit into the more globally competitive work force which is present now in all major coutnries of the world.
It is not enough that there are local people who can work. It is also very important that they align the purpose and reasons of their employment with their personal goals and their greater role in the United Arab Emirates’ society. If they see discrepancies in the work standards and policies of the expatriates as compared with them, they must act for the advancement of a fair and just labour environment more than being just placid just because they live in their own country. In short, they must strive for equality and fairness in their work standards and contexts.
3. What HRM challenges face the Etisalat to have continuous HRM training and development?
Etisalat has been repeatedly chosen as the best employer within the UAE nationals circles. It has shown its commitment to the development of the United Arab Emirates' national work force as its organizational priority. (Etisalat Website, 2011, p. 1) Actually, its training programs covers several areas of specialization and confronts the country’s educational issues and challenges.
The major challenge which Etisalat has to confront is the rapid organizationla changes which requires a more focused and distinctive approach to training and developing people and key personnels. Aligned with this is the crucial aspect of addressing the issue sof:
1.. training the right people to that will be expected to deliver the bottom line for this telecom giant;
2. the special programs which need to be developed in order to make their personnel highly skillful and more competitive as compared with other telecoms personnel and workers. These central issues nned to be addressed with reference to the Etisalat employees’ culture (their value systems, beliefs, and their adherence to certai management styles); organization (the Etisalat’s dynamic and ever evolving structure, complete with their detailed job fucnitons and reporting lines); personnel (their skill levels, potential and their capacity to handle a team or group in the future); and human resources programs and organization (the department which is focused on the growth of its personnel). Hence, the delivery of several strategie sof the company is anchored through training and development. (Etisalat Annual Report 2010, p. 2)
Another major challenge to Etisalat’s continuous training is the prioritization of senior management with regards to resources and development planning. Accordingly, there has been various oversights to HR planning, budgeting and programming activities. (p. 2) The compnay needs a very comprehensive and extensive HR planning because they employ so many employees around the world. All of thee employees look up to their careful and wise HR programs which will ensure their company’s further success and profitability.
In this regard, the telecommunications company must offer training and development programs that encompasses organizational functions. Since the compnay experiences many and simultaneous changes not just in their organization but aso within their employees and their clients, they must secure technological leadership and consistent training and development programs to go with it. For instance, the telecommunications industry has launched itself anew into the New Generation Networks or NGNs. Etisalat’s adoption to his new technology must be equipped and supported by the knowledge enhancements of its personnel.
Another major challenge is the type and format of training which can be inconsistent if they fall to this challenge. According to Randeree (2009, p. 75), most training nowadays take place in several locations. It is also very dependant on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the employees. In this regard, the continuity of the training can also be lost or broken down from its simplicity and consistency if it is changed per location. The most commonly supported trainings are: the development of the British style apprenticeship schemes; compulsory in house training cycles and local or regional training or retraining events. This will and can only become effective when the Etisalat HR department is able to transcend multicultural distinctions and work on the necessary upgrading of talents and skills among its employees.
Etisalat’s financial resources can also challenge the continuous training of its employee. For instance, the giving out of scholarship in most companies or their foreign studies are usually offered with additional length of stay within the company or other means of keeping the employee working for the company.
Another disjuncture from training and development is the gap between the level of skills and knowledge and attitudes among its workers or employees. For instance, the transfer of knowledge and skills from expatriates and/or foreign workers to their UAE national counterparts may be reduced. This might be because the employer or the expatriate is afraid that the locla employee will be able to learn his trick and that he will be dsipatched from the company. It may be tha case, on the other hand, that the local employee cannot follow thru the instructions set forth during the training and hence, he/she cannot adopt into the new skils or knowledge needed to be able to be more productive at work.
ADTC Website, 2011. Emiratisation in UAE. [Online]. Available at: <http://www.abudhabi.ae/egovPoolPortal_WAR/appmanager/ADeGP/Citizen?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=p_citizen_en_homepage_hidenav&did=254196&lang=en#254198>.
Al Bayan, October 29, 2008. [Online] Available at: <http://www.albayan.ae/servlet/Satellite?c=Article&cid=1223993414930&pagename=Albayan/Article/FullDetail.>
Cameron, J., 2003. Higher education and human resource needs for nationals in the government sector of the UAE, Dubai: The National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority Tanmia.
Corporate Profile, 2011. Etisalat Website. [Online]. Available at: <http://www.etisalat.ae/index.jsp?lang=en&type=channel¤tid=a79a8e621187b010VgnVCM1000000c24a8c0____&parentid=ed38800d1f52a010VgnVCM1000000a0a0a0a____>.
Etisalat Annual Report, 2010. Engaging Business and People. [Online]. Available at: < http://docs.google.com/a/ateneoalumniassociation.org/viewer?a=v&q=cache:MiCUFi-Y5T4J:etisalat.com/areports/EtisalatAnnualReport10.pdf+3.+What+HRM+challenges+face+the+Etisalat+to+have+continuous+HRM+training+and+development?&hl=tl&gl=ph&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiii-O7HbFw_-pI8vWJfQed93irEHzLUKd_7tnH0_aJlkFlZWoYqqKmKnsPiABQDDLvsZnE1mRpd4dIMOPPDA4ma909ygi1PLVSCr1QcsRscsb1NcL_H76N7AON9gA8j_eDNlZa&sig=AHIEtbQ4gEu0NgMVJheeri3kj4fSZegzGw>
Etisalat Participates at Sharjah National Career Fair, 2010. Emiratisation.org Website. [Online] Available at: <http://emiratisation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=507%3Aetisalat-participates-at-sharjah-national-career-fair&catid=112%3Afebruary-2010&Itemid=67&lang=en>.
Human Resource Environment, Legal Environment and HES Module, 2010. Model of HRM.
Randeree, K., 2009. Strategy, Policy and Practice in the Nationalisation of Human Capital: ‘Project Emiratisation.’ Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 17(1), pp. 71-91.