Finding the right person for a position is challenging!

Finding the right person for a position is challenging no matter where you live and I am involved in the process of finding my successor. I informed the organization I have worked for during the past four years, that I will be leaving at the end of my contract, which will be the end of September. I have enjoyed the job very much but I wanted to take a different direction in my career so I am starting my own education management-consulting firm. I am leaving on good terms and am very involved in the hiring of my successor.

 The UAE is an attractive place to live and work so finding qualified expats is not a big challenge but my CEO and I are in agreement that if we can hire a qualified UAE National that would be ideal.

 The process to announce is pretty straightforward; Human Resources posts the position on the university website, as well as LinkedIn, and various career website and the in-box is immediately filled with qualified applications. Sure enough in 72 hours over 40 hopefuls have applied for my job and the majority met the core requirements but one thing was missing; Emiratis applying.

 What went wrong? Did we do a poor job of explaining the position, or possibly its not in the right website locations, or maybe this is a job a Emirati wouldn’t want. The last option personally hurt my feelings considering I had been doing this for four years and overall liked the job. So I decided to take a more direct approach and looked at my contacts list as well as my LinkedIn database and make a direct contact. I identified six people I thought would be potential prospects or would pass it on to a qualified candidate. Within 24 hours three of the six contacted me to inquire further.

 What I learned surprised me. Two of the people I spoke with were interested but afraid to submit their name for a concern that their boss would find out. They fear their CEO will complain to someone in our organization and accuse them of poaching their personnel. This would end any chance they had of being hired.

 The UAE has a population of 8+ million people of which just 1 million are Emirati. It is a young population and as I have posted in the past, most go into government jobs that pay well and having shorter working hours. Less than 7% go into the private sector and the higher education administrative sector has about one in ten who are Emirati. The country has made it a priority that all UAE based organizations hire Emiratis that puts pressure on supervisors not to lose UAE Nationals. In many cases this results in senior level people making it clear to their counterparts not to go after “my people” or there will be consequences.

 At some level this is understandable but as a result the unofficial policy in a number of educational institutions of no poaching, inhibits mobility for Emiratis gaining new experiences and responsibilities as well as better salary. This trickles down in some organizations where it is very difficult for people to transfer from one department to another.

 The idea of Emirisation is full employment and moving people up the ranks so they can take operational leadership positions, that way the company is not as dependent on expats in the upper ranks. The Emiratis I meet are like all of us, they want a position that pays well, and gives pride and satisfaction in their work. People, if qualified, should not be discouraged to pursue new opportunities if it advances their career goals.

 I am very optimistic we will find a great replacement for me, I just hope anyone who wants to be considered my job or any other position is not discouraged to do so.

To learn more about my position at Ankabut click on Director of Marketing and Communications. I especially encourage UAE Nationals to apply and feel free to contact me. 

New pay structure upsets some Emirati teachers

Mariam Al Kaabi has had enough.

On February 6th Shireena Al Nuwais of the National wrote an article titled:  “Emirati teachers threaten to resign over new pay scale”. The National interviewed Mariam Al Kaabi, a teacher at Al Ain’s Umm Kalthoum High School for 18 years. She, along with a number of other teachers, has threaten to resign because they feel they have been misled.

“They called this an increase and a way to encourage nationals to be teachers, but I say that this is a new system to push away and deter national teachers, said Mariam Al Kaabi. The new salaries are not an increase. They just included our housing in the salary.”

The overwhelming majority of Emirati teachers like Mariam Al Kaabi does their job, are strong supporters of their country and want a quality education system. That is why it is very unusual for such a person to come out publicly. What events occurred for her and others to threaten to resign?  After all the UAE has been very public in its desire to increase the number of Emirati’s in the teaching field.

Here is some background on what caused this very public outburst.

On November 26, 2013 a number of UAE English newspapers including The National, Gulf News, and Khaleej Times reported that Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), announced that the education salary structure was to be adjusted offering up to 35 per cent greater pay and benefits for Emirati teachers, leaders and administrative staff across the emirate of Abu Dhabi public school sector. The reason was to encourage Emiratis to join the education profession.

“The fewer the number of Emiratis who take up education-related careers, the fewer Emirati graduates we have for roles in public school. Such a decline could not only lead to a lack of Emirati role models for pupils, but could also result in pupils losing their national identity and values,” said Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, director general at the Adec.

However when I reviewed the ADEC release I did not find any statement, which was specific about the percentage of raises.

In the website release it was stated:

“The salary structure for teachers, principals, assistant principals and administrative staff at public schools in Abu Dhabi, has been initiated to raise the quality of education and increase the participation of Emiratis, while promoting a comprehensive vision to develop human resources and the status of teaching in schools. The new salary structure comes in line with requirements of the new organizational structure to ensure a professional work environment based on governance, transparency and excellence, while promoting quality education through employing and attracting qualified teachers with experience. The plan will also help retain administrative performance, create new jobs and update the duties and roles of other basic jobs.”

Is this a misunderstanding of what is included in the revised compensation package? Was it clearly communicated to the teaching professionals before receiving their new paycheck? I cannot find any definitive statements on the public ADEC sites which clearly lays out the old package, and the new one. It is clear that some teachers feel a significant raise in pay was promised in November but did not occur.

So what happens next? Will the public school system see a number of Emirati teachers not return for the new school year? Let’s hope that is not the case. If the school system wishes to increase the number of Emiratis to join the education profession it is important to retain current Emirati teachers and administrators.

Hopefully the issue is being addressed and will be positively resolved for everyone. The UAE needs more, not less male and female Emirati teachers, to help educate the nation’s children. To lose experienced teachers is a waste of talent.


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