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UAE’s Sustainable Vision: Talent Strategies for a Greener Future

by Madaline Dunn

As the UAE transitions into a burgeoning knowledge economy, the country’s diversification beyond oil opens a spectrum of job opportunities across innovative industries. From the flourishing fintech sector to the dynamic landscape of e-commerce and the growing emphasis on sustainability, the UAE is paving the way for a new era of professional possibilities. At the core of this transformative journey is the right talent, whose skills will help propel the country’s commitment to sustainability. As the demand for eco-conscious business practices surges worldwide, so do the job prospects within the green and clean energy sectors.

The UAE’s dedication to sustainability has manifested in significant investments in clean energy projects. With a focus on reducing carbon emissions, the country launched 11 environmentally friendly energy projects totalling $43.3 billion in 2022 with plans to invest up to $54 billion in renewables over the next seven years. This surge in clean energy initiatives not only aligns with global environmental goals but also creates a host of employment opportunities for individuals skilled in renewable energy technologies, project management, and sustainable practices.

The UAE is focusing on multiple sustainability initiatives, one of which is reducing emissions by 40% by 2030. As an incentive, residents are encouraged to invest in electric vehicles, sparking demand for expertise in electric vehicle technologies, charging infrastructure, and sustainable urban planning. Additionally, the UAE’s Green Agenda 2030 outlines comprehensive targets, including raising GDP by 4-5% and increasing exports by AED 24–25 billion. The country’s ambitious goals have also motivated organisations to implement green initiatives, which in turn creates a demand for skilled workforce adept at navigating the intricacies of sustainable business practices and environmental conservation.

Current Sustainability Talent Landscape

The UAE is already a magnet for global talent hosting over 200 nationalities due to its excellent infrastructure, high-quality projects, and competitive pay scales. Initiatives like the long-term Golden Visas, self-sponsored digital nomad visas and freelancer visas, have further boosted the country’s international appeal. As sustainability roles require a rare mix of technical expertise and innovative thinking, aligned with climate action goals, talent attraction and retention can be challenging in, Companies require strategic partnerships or tools to access niche local, regional, and global talent pools. 

For the public sector, specialists such as Climate Policy Experts needed for evidence-based policy crafting, can be drawn to the UAE through collaborations and initiatives like UAE Net Zero 2050. Carbon Market Specialists, crucial for developing carbon pricing and trading mechanisms, may be attracted by the UAE’s Voluntary Carbon Market. Renewable Energy Engineers, key for transitioning to clean energy, can be enticed by flagship projects like Al Dhafra Solar Farm. Similarly in the private sector, consulting firms will witness a surge in demand for both policy development and practical implementation. The MENA region witnessed a substantial 200% increase in the need for consulting roles during H1 2023, as outlined in the 2023 Mid-Year Demand Trends report by Outsized. This mirrors the global trend of an increasing emphasis on stringent ESG and CSR regulations.

Recruitment Strategies for Independent Talent

Companies can leverage talent-on-demand platforms like Outsized to recruit independent professionals with specialised skills in sustainability. These platforms can offer tailored talent pools with swift access to pre-screened professionals, optimising talent deployment efficiency. Cross-border remote collaboration extends the talent pool’s reach, fostering sustainable work practices by reducing on-site presence and contributing to improved performance and outcomes. To ensure that companies can attract and retain their skilled workforce, comprehensive expat packages, family support, flexible employment and opportunities for professional growth will appeal to global professionals.

The UAE is committed to making a monumental economic shift towards sustainability, but to achieve green objectives, attracting, nurturing, and retaining global talent with specialised sustainability skills is crucial. 

By Vikram Malhotra, Managing Director, MENA at Outsized

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