Ambitious millennials choose UAE as top country to work

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 03 Nov 2015

Young leaders believe the UAE's economy has greatest potential to boost their careers, WEF survey finds

The United Arab Emirates is the top worldwide emerging markets destination for career advancement among the millennial generation, according to the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2015.
More than 1,000 people aged between 20 and 30 from around the world took part in the survey, which was conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF). They were all members of WEF’s Global Shaper Community – a network of more than 450 city-based hubs of young, civically engaged leaders.
Respondents picked the UAE as the number one destination to advance their careers, beating other economic powerhouses such as China, Brazil, South Africa and India.
Mark Williams, head of leadership and talent at Hay Group Middle East, isn’t surprised that millennials favour the UAE. “Economic growth, favourable tax conditions, year-round sunshine and an exciting social calendar all add up to an attractive package,” he said. “]Dubai’s] position as a global transport hub and initiatives such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Smart City create a connected and hassle-free lifestyle that appeals to the so-called ‘digital native’ millennial generation.”
But, warned Williams, the UAE’s fantastic location won’t be enough on its own for employers to attract and retain the best young talent: “Millennials have a tendency to move around in their careers as they seek progression and development. To counteract this, organisations need an employee value proposition that appeals to that generation. They can do this by focusing on career progression and development opportunities, as well as work-life balance and a competitive compensation and benefits package.”
Businesses should also scrutinise their management styles, said Williams. “Millennials are looking for a new type of leadership that allows them the freedom to work in a way that suits them. Our research shows that organisations in this region tend to default to the ‘command and control’ style of management. Leading companies are equipping their senior staff with the skills to lead diverse and multi-generational teams, which gives them a competitive edge in the race to attract and retain top talent.”
The WEF’s survey also shone a light on the social issues and challenges that millennials deem important. Income inequality was cited as a key issue at both a city and global level, while youth unemployment and effective government were raised as issues at city level.
“By choosing the UAE as the top emerging markets destination, millennials are selecting a country that is very serious about professional advancement,” said Yemi Babington-Ashaye, head of the Global Shapers Community, WEF. “The results also remind us of those things that millennials value everywhere, such as social and economic equality.”
The survey’s results also suggested a generational shift in the concept of work, with respondents prioritising the opportunity to make a difference in their society and the ability to learn ahead of simply climbing the career ladder.