Sunday 13, August 2017 by Jessica Combes

Six in 10 fresh graduates want to work in the UAE


Young job seekers and recent graduates continue to enter the job market in the Middle East and North Africa, competing for entry level jobs very actively.

span style="font-size: small;">Middle East job site, and global online market research company YouGov recently conducted a survey titled Fresh Graduates in the MENA in which 61 per cent of UAE respondents claimed that they found or plan to find their first job through leading online job sites. Furthermore 49 per cent of respondents in the UAE claim that they found their first job in less than six months. 

span style="font-size: small;">“Fresh graduates seeking to secure their first job should take advantage of the numerous entry-level jobs, internships, as well as information about the job market that regularly provides. Today, and on any given day, over 10,000 jobs are available on our job site, nearly 5,000 of which are suitable for young job seekers and fresh graduates. For more than 17 years, we have been successfully designing solutions at to help employers find the most suitable young talent and help job seekers highlight their skills and gain more knowledge on how to approach the job search effectively,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions,

Almost a quarter, 24 per cent, of respondents in the UAE said that the most appealing industry for a career is engineering or design. This was closely followed by banking or finance and advertising or marketing equally at 20 per cent. These findings seemed to mirror the views of respondents when it came to which industries they see hiring the highest number of fresh graduates. Of the respondents 25 per cent said that advertising or marketing hire the highest number of fresh graduates in the UAE. The same percentage felt that banking or finance hired the most, while 21 per cent said it was the IT industry.

span style="font-size: small;"> When asked why respondents think these industries employ more fresh graduates compared to others in the UAE 45 per cent said that these industries believe fresh graduates have “lower expectation on salary”. This was followed by 37 per cent of respondents believing that fresh graduates can “handle more challenges” while 36 per cent speculated that these graduates are “more creative”.

When selecting a job in the UAE, being passionate about the job itself emerged as the most important factor, according to 44 per cent of respondents; 11 per cent also said that a well-known organisation was an important factor when selecting a job in the UAE. Another eight per cent of respondents also mentioned “opportunities for career progression” as an important attribute when selecting a job.

Salary expectations are varied in the UAE, with 30 per cent of respondents saying that they received or would expect to receive a salary between $751 and $1,500 in their first job. Another 30 per cent of respondents said that they received or would expect to receive a salary that is higher than $1,501 in their first job; 28 per cent of respondents said they received or expect to receive a salary below $750, while 12 per cent said they do not know or are not sure about their salary expectations.

In addition to a basic salary, 42 per cent of respondents expect benefits to include personal medical insurance, housing allowance or company provided accommodation; 40 per cent expect an annual air ticket, and 36 per cent expect a transportation allowance.

When asked about relocation for employment, UAE emerged as the most attractive country, with 58 per cent saying they would relocate to the UAE for job opportunities.

Engineering graduates made up 25 per cent of respondents residing in the UAE (25 per cent) while business, commerce, and economics graduates made up 20 per cent following by accounting and finance at 16 per cent, graduates of the sciences made up nine per cent, and IT graduates made up eight per cent.

Over two thirds of fresh graduates, 69 per cent, in the UAE said that they considered the availability of jobs in their potential field before deciding their major, whereas 31 per cent said they did not consider job availability prior to their decision.

Respondents were asked if they believe they would have fared better in the job market with a different major or a different school. While 36 per cent said no, 28 per cent said that they would have fared better with a different major and 25 per cent said that they would have fared better with a different major and a different school.

When it came to whether there was a link between the field respondents studied and where they are employed, surprisingly, half of fresh graduates who are employed said that they were not employed in their field of study. The other half does, in fact, work in their field of study.

The majority, 80 per cent, of fresh graduates in the UAE said that they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the quality of higher education they had received; only 10 per cent said that they were somewhat or very dissatisfied and the remaining 10 per cent were neutral.

When it came to the role of higher education in preparing students for their industry of choice, 31 per cent of UAE respondents said their university helped “completely”, 18 per cent said it helped to “a large extent”, and 31 per cent said it helped “but only to some extent”, 16 per cent said their university did not help them in this aspect, while the remaining four per cent did not give their opinion.

Around 41 per cent of fresh graduates in the UAE claimed that they received help from their Institute to find job opportunities during their time as college students, while 59 per cent said they did not receive any support.

For those who did receive help, the most common ways were career fairs, 39 per cent, job announcements, 35 per cent, help with CV and cover letter writing, 34 per cent, and open days or campus recruitment, 32 per cent.

When asked what challenges fresh graduates face most in the UAE, according to 68 per cent ‘finding a job’ emerged as the top challenge, followed by 44 per cent who chose ‘discovering what we want to do in life’, and 33 per cent who selected ‘saving money’.

When respondents were searching for a job, according to 52 per cent the greatest challenges they faced included the fact that ‘employers were looking for candidates with previous work experience’, 39 per cent who selected ‘knowing how to approach the job search effectively’, and 36 per cent who selected knowing ‘where to find relevant jobs’.

The majority of respondents, 75 per cent, also said that industries are hesitant in hiring fresh graduates because they may lack the needed experience while 36 per cent said they lack skills.

Respondents commented on what skills they believe are required to excel in the workplace:  58 per cent selected communication skills, 45 per cent selected computer skills, 39 per cent selected academic and technical skills while 32 per cent selected flexibility or adaptability to change.

Yet despite these challenges for fresh graduates In the UAE, most of them are reportedly highly skilled. Almost all respondents, 96 per cent, rated themselves as “good” or “very good” when it comes to communication skills; 91 per cent rated themselves as “good” or “very good” in flexibility and adaptability to change, and 89 per cent rated themselves as “good” or “very good” in computer skills.

“Although fresh graduates are reportedly highly content with the quality of education they received, it seems that their institutions fell a bit short on preparing them for the job search, “ said Anjali Chhabra, Senior Research Manager, YouGov. “The survey shows that fresh graduates are finding a lot of value in searching for a job online as they look for opportunities in a competitive and crowded job market.”

Looking at the future 38 per cent of respondents say they will keep looking until they find a job, while 31 per cent said that they will start looking for a job in another industry or job role of their choice, and 16 per cent will start looking for a job no matter what industry or job role it is.

span style="font-size: small;">Around 63 per cent, are optimistic about their career and educational opportunities for their generation compared to their parents’ generation, whereas only 13 per cent claimed that they are not optimistic and do not believe that their generation has better opportunities and 17 per cent were neutral in response to this question while the rest did not comment. 

span style="font-size: small;">Data for the 2017 Fresh Graduates in the MENA Survey was collected online from 21 June to 12 July 2017. Results are based on a sample of 1,865 respondents.


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