UAE workforce expands 10% indicating strong growth rate

Abu Dhabi — The UAE’s workforce has grown 10 per cent year-on-year in 2014 to 4.417 million, the strongest growth rate in 44 years, said the Ministry of Labour.

“The ministry has issued approximately 1.212 million work permits over last year, which also witnessed the termination of work contracts for about 821,000 workers,” said Humaid Rashid bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, assistant under secretary of labour affairs.

The strong growth in the labour market and its bullish indicators in 2014 show the strength and growth potentials of the second biggest Arab economy especially for highly skilled work-force, as the economy advances to more sophisticated and knowledge-based industries.

The construction industry topped the list of the three major employers, where the number of workers reached to over 1.50 million or 34 per cent of total workforce; the services followed it with 1.050 million workforce or 24 per cent of total workforce; and the industries with 500,000 workers or 12 per cent, accounting for about 70 per cent of total jobs in the country.

Al Suwaidi said that the health sector with 25.4 per cent is the fastest growing sector; followed by real estate, leasing, and services by 18.6 per cent, chased by hotels, restaurants, transportation, storage and logistics industries at 12.3 per cent.

The assistant under secretary also explained that first and second group of workforce grew 14 per cent, while the third, fourth, and fifth groups of workers in terms of skills set rose nine per cent. He said that the strong demand in first and second workforce groups compared to the other three groups indicates that the job market is looking for highly qualified and technical expertise.

According to the classification adopted by the Ministry of Labour for jobs, the first group of jobs includes specialised occupations which require a higher technical expertise and a university degree at a minimum. The second group includes jobs that require the technical expertise and supervisory skills with a 2-3 years diploma.

Al Suwaidi also said that the labour market has witnessed significant workers mobility who were given new work permits after the implementation of the new transfer system in 2011, which shows the flexibility and market stability.

Al Suwaidi added that the total number of workers, who were allowed work permits during 2011, before the implementation of the new transfer system, were 1.05 million, but the number jumped 62.5 per cent since then to 170,000 in 2014. He also said that the rate of increase in the number of work force listed under the first and second category of jobs, who were given work permits during the previous year was 14 per cent higher than in the third, fourth and fifth category of job, which was about seven per cent.

In order to benefit from the new system employer-employee must consent to the termination of the labour contract, and second, the employee must have spent at least two years at the previous workplace.

Cases of exemption from the first requirement include employees whose previous employers have violated the terms of their contract. As for exemption from the second requirement, it includes employees who wish to enroll in a first-group job’s skill set with a minimum salary of Dh12,000, a second-group of jobs with a minimum salary of Dh7,000 or a third group of jobs with a minimum salary of Dh5,000.