The first batch of retail market-ready Emiratis graduated from the inaugural Afaaq Mehnati management programme yesterday at Dubai Men\'s College. Mehnati (‘my job\' in Arabic) is a course run under the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) and is aimed at enhancing the employability of nationals in the retail management sector. Just under 10 nationals were awarded upon completion of the programme. \"We are trying to change the mentality of UAE nationals and ensure they change their job search mindset and not limit it to government jobs,\" said Eisa Al Mulla, Executive Director of ENDP. \"Our role in the Mehnati initiative is to contact the Emiratis on our database seeking work in the private sector, specifically in retail.\" Article continues below The programme is sponsored by the Majid Al Futtaim Charity Foundation and the courses are delivered by the Higher Colleges of Technology. The overarching agreement is that graduates get jobs in various retail outlets such as Carrefour, Spinneys, IKEA, Plug-ins and Toys R Us. \"It is programmes like this that are helping us with the issues of bridging the gap between the Emiratis and the private sector,\" said Al Mulla. Right skills The programme integrates theory and soft skills to equip the trainees with the right skills to carry out their managerial duties in the UAE\'s retail sector. They were taught modules such as business English, customer service, teamwork, leadership and business etiquette. The ENDP has already enrolled a second batch of nearly 20 Emiratis onto the ongoing Mehnati programme. However, although a majority of yesterday\'s graduates were women, Al Mulla said it is reflective of the local gender ratio seeking employment.