Two in three of the UAE’s working population feel motivated at work, according to the recent Bayt.com Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the region’s number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation. While more than half of the UAE’s respondents aspire to be promoted to a higher position, about a third of them are concerned about losing their job and unemployment.
The Ideal Job for UAE Workforce
Oil and gas emerges as the preferred industry for 14% of the UAE current and potential workforce. Construction comes in second at 8%, followed by banking and finance; advertising, marketing and public relations; tourism, and hospitality.
When defining an ideal job, the survey’s respondents consider salary and benefits 85%, opportunities for career growth 66%, and job security 36% to be the most important factors. Four in 10 44% believe they currently have the perfect job, though the majority of them 59% would like to work in a higher position, or would like to be an expert in their field 43%.
Despite the perceived level of contentment, about three in five working respondents claim that there are not many opportunities for career advancement within their current company. Hence, two in five are prepared to move to another area of expertise or department to advance their career, or to move to another industry altogether.
“It’s very interesting that 43% of respondents would like to be an expert in their field,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com. “This latest information from our recruitment research in the MENA region solidifies our latest ventures at Bayt.com. As a part of our commitment to empower the region’s employers and job seekers with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in the recruitment market, earlier this year, we launched Bayt.com Specialties. This platform helps professionals showcase their expertise in their fields of work and interest by enabling them to ask pressing professional questions and receive answers from other specialists in a timely and organized manner. More importantly, it makes it easier than ever to build a powerful personal online brand by empowering professionals to turn their thought-leadership and intellectual curiosity into relevant content which is showcased to highly relevant audiences that have the potential to further their careers.”
When asked the reasons for accepting their current job offer, 29% claim that it was the first, or the only one that they received. Almost a quarter 23% accepted because of the salary and benefits that it offered, and 15% claim it offered them a chance to work in their dream industry. Interestingly, only one in six were motivated to take the job because of its corporate reputation. Career Motivation in the UAE
Employee motivation is high in the UAE, with 65% of respondents claiming to be ‘quite motivated’ or ‘highly motivated’ at work. Those working are of the opinion that motivation can be further improved by offering higher salaries, more benefits and perks 57%, followed by opportunity to express creativity and showcase skills 43%, and a better work/life balance 41%. Roughly one in three would also be driven by promotions and the opportunity to learn new skills.
Reasons given for seeking employment include “to continuously learn and gain experience” 72%, and “the chance to be gainfully employed” 59%. “Gaining financial independence through employment” is also important to 44%.
Three quarters of those working or seeking employment have set professional goals for themselves, with 30% having goals for the next 5 years. In comparison, only 15% indicate they have not set any goals for themselves.
“The survey indeed shows much positivity for UAE’s economy in the years to come,” said Masri. “All the ingredients are right: employees are happy, motivated, and have for the large part set goals in place.”
When asked to identify barriers to career growth, the survey’s respondents specified a lack of growth opportunities 40% and poor management within their current company 38% as the top barriers.
Overall, respondents are happy with their work environment, with 39% being either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very happy’. However, some believe that “the government can help improve the working environment through increased transparency in terms of salaries within companies” 62%, by “increasing job opportunities” 59%, and by “further improving labour laws” 44%.
Higher education is in the plans for 67%, out of whom 33% intend to attend a university in their country of residence. Four in 10 42% would like to retire after they turn 60, though 43% are looking to retire between 50-60 years.
For UAE respondents, the top priorities in life comprise a successful career 64% and financial stability and independence also at 64%. Good health 54% also emerges as a top priority.
In general, respondents are worried about financial issues as well as losing their job and unemployment, career path uncertainty 37%, and not being able to maintain a work/life balance 35%. For the majority, unemployment could have significant consequences – 29% of respondents indicate they no savings from their income over the past year. Aspirations in the MENA Region
Across the MENA region, the oil, gas and petrochemicals industry is one of the most preferred to work in. However, this is driven more by the GCC countries and North Africa, whereas in the Levant, it is education, IT and banking that share the top preference.
The most important factors for choosing an ideal job include salary and benefits 76%, followed by opportunities for career growth 51% and work/life balance 38%. Respondents rate their current jobs average or below average on these factors, which they consider to be most important when selecting their ideal job. Less than 50% rate their current job positively on work/life balance. On the other hand, respondents rate their current jobs highly on their company’s reputation 72% state ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ and manageable workload 67% state ‘good’ to ‘excellent’.
Nevertheless, respondents’ overall opinion of their current job is positive, with 48% agreeing that their job is perfect for them, although 63% would like to be promoted to a higher level position. A further 46% aim to be experts in their field, while 35% are prepared to move to another area of expertise or department to further their career.
Survey results show that only 28%of respondents agree that there are many opportunities for career advancement with their present employer. However, a larger percentage 41% perceive there are more opportunities within their industry. About two in five respondents agree that promotions within their company are based on a fair system, although a similar percentage also perceive otherwise.
The main reason identified by respondents for accepting their current job is that it was the only or first one they were offered 33%. This reason is primarily driven by North Africa and the Levant region.
Interestingly, the work force surveyed does not appear to lack motivation with 73% claiming to be motivated across the region. In the opinion of respondents, motivation can be improved by increasing salaries, perks and benefits 56%, the opportunity to express creativity or showcase skills 44%, and a better work/life balance 43%. Promotions, training opportunities and more challenging work emerge as other motivational factors.
The top three reasons for seeking employment include the need to learn and gain experience 72%, to be gainfully employed 58%, and to feel useful to society 53%.
At least one in four have set professional goals for themselves over the next 5 years. This is driven more by males and those in 40+ age group. Interestingly, one in four females have not set any goals for themselves. Two thirds 68%, driven primarily by the younger age group, intend to pursue higher education in the future. Online learning appears to be gaining popularity as around one in three wish to pursue further education using an online learning platform.
The desired retirement age in the MENA region is sometime after 60 for almost half of respondents, while 23% would like to retire sometime between 56-60 years.
The main barrier to personal career growth is identified as a lack of growth opportunities 39%. Other factors considered as barrier include poor management within the current company 32%; favouritism in the workplace 25%; lack of training 18%; and lack of experience 18%. In terms of attaining career goals, a lack of financial support 42% and lack of opportunity 42% are cited as the top barriers, followed by a lack of resources 34%.
Four in 10 39% respondents are happy with their current work environment, although the majority 62% believe that their local government should increase job opportunities in order to improve the working environment.
Top priorities in life for MENA respondents are to have a successful career 64% - driven more by the younger age group, financial stability 60% - driven more by the older age group and good health 54%. Living a stress-free life 43% as well as spending quality time with family 29% is more important for older respondents.
“It is quite apparent that one’s career is very important for MENA residents,” said Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov. “And people seem to enjoy their jobs. Companies in the MENA can try to plan better career growth routes to improve motivation at work. It’s also important to note that 44% of respondents said that they would feel more motivated if they are given more opportunities to express creativity and showcase skills.”
In their daily lives, respondents are most concerned about their financial situation 52% and job security 37%. Savings seem to be an issue for a number of respondents, as 30% claim to have put aside nothing in the last year. More in the Levant and North Africa claim to have not saved anything over the past year than those in the GCC region.
The majority 78% of respondents would consider relocating to another country for employment purposes, with the UAE being the destination of choice across all countries surveyed.
Data for the Bayt.com Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa survey was collected online from October 22 to November 5, 2013, with 7,445 respondents from UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.