Emirati youth not well prepared for joining workforce

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 02 Dec 2015

More than half of 18- to 34-year-olds say finding a job is their biggest challenge, but business sees an opportunity

Finding a job is the biggest challenge for more than half young people in the UAE, according to a new survey by YouGov, with the task causing them more stress than saving money and discovering what to do in life.
Respondents to a poll of 18- to 34-year-olds across the UAE felt positive about the quality of higher education they receive in the region, and teachers and curriculum were rated highly by 76 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. Teaching methods were also highly approved of by two-thirds.
But 'preparation for employment' was rated highly by only 57 per cent of respondents, suggesting that many are dissatisfied with how their school or university prepares them of working life. And 58 per cent said they had not received assistance in applying for jobs from their college or university.
“The Middle East region faces some challenges in terms of providing youth the appropriate skills to enter the workforce, particularly for the private sector,” said Ebru Akca, head of human resources for Boehringer Ingelheim, Middle East, Africa and Turkey (META).
“We see a general mismatch of targeted education and required jobs in the marketplace, as well as a discrepancy in terms of candidate profiles and skills required for the jobs. This is a concern particularly for industries that require technical qualifications such as pharmaceutical and chemical industries, manufacturing and logistics.
“That said, this presents an opportunity for the private sector to upskill youth with development tools through specialised on-the-job practical experience. Global companies operating in the region can support youth training and development to provide youth the appropriate skills in terms of leadership competency and technical expertise to bridge the skills gap.”
Although the survey showed that young people still value education, results revealed a lack of relevant work experience, with only 56 per cent of students saying they had gained work experience before or during their time in college.
Joao Neves, senior research director for education and human development at YouGov, said: “Many UAE students are clearly leaving university or college unprepared to join the workforce. Given the sheer scope of the region’s youth and the ambitious vision demonstrated by their attraction to higher education, it is imperative young people feel empowered to meaningfully contribute to the growth and prosperity of their economies.
“Higher education institutions and the private/public sector need to collaborate much more closely to define the skills gaps, likely industry growth areas and degree types their countries require to prosper, and heavily communicate these to students, graduates and young professionals. In turn, this information will help inspire and prepare youth to take greater responsibility to seek the best avenue for happy, long term employment.”