Fresh Grads Find Engineering, Marketing, and Business Consultation the Most Attractive Industries to Work for in the UAE

Press release
Published July 30th, 2018 - 08:50 GMT
Suhail Masri, VP Employer Solutions,
Suhail Masri, VP Employer Solutions,

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most youthful regions in the world. Hence, there is a large number of fresh graduates that are seeking entry level jobs every day. In the UAE, a survey by and YouGov entitled “Fresh Graduates in the MENA” revealed that the majority of fresh graduates (80%) believe that their educational background had prepared them for finding a job in their industry of choice.

When looking for a job, nearly 7 in 10 UAE respondents (69%) used or planned to use leading online job sites, followed by direct applications to target companies (49%) and family and friends network (49%). The nature of the job/being passionate about the job emerges as the single most important factor for respondents when selecting a job. The same is true across all countries in the MENA.

Most Attractive Industries

In the UAE, engineering/design (28%), advertising/marketing/public relations (25%) and business consultancy (21%) emerge as the most appealing industries from a career point of view, followed by banking/finance (17%) and IT (12%). The industries that are hiring the highest proportions of fresh graduates according to respondents include advertising/marketing/public relations (28%), banking/finance (17%) and real estate/construction/property development (15%).

Lower expectations on salary (57%) is the main reasons why respondents believe that some industries hire more fresh graduates than others, followed by more willingness to follow instructions (37%). Conversely, 72% of fresh graduates claim that the lack of needed experience is the main reason why some industries are more hesitant to hire them.  

Finding a Job in the UAE

Across MENA, one in three respondents feel optimistic about the career and educational opportunities for their generation, as compared to their parents’ generation. UAE residents are the most optimistic about their career and educational opportunities for their generation.

60% of UAE graduates claim they acquired work experience during or before their time in college and university, and almost half (43%) had one to six month’s experience. When asked which skills they believe are required to excel in the workplace, respondents mentioned computer and communication skills at 53% as most important respectively, followed by flexibility/adaptability to change (38%). When it comes to personal skills, respondents rate themselves highly across all skills.

Still, finding a job (74%), discovering what to do in life (44%), and saving money (43%) are the top challenges for fresh graduates in the UAE.

Across the region, taking a long time to find a job in chosen field (50%) and insufficient job openings in field (46%) are the most common reasons why respondents are not employed in their field of study. When asked what they will do if they do not find a job in their exact target job role/industry, almost half (47%) of the fresh graduates said they will keep looking until they do, while one-third (36%) said they will start looking into another role/industry of their choice.

“The job market is highly competitive today, and at entry level, due to the high numbers of young people across the region, competition is especially rife. To stand out, fresh graduates need to focus on fine-tuning both their transferable skills and leadership potential, via hands-on internship experiences or specialized courses. Ultimately, our goal at is to arm these graduates with the right tools needed to thrive in today’s ever-evolving employment sector. In fact, our job site features thousands of employment opportunities especially catered to fresh graduates. Entry-level candidates can also tap into different tools on that are designed to improve their skills and increase their professional knowledge,” said Suhail Masri, VP Employer Solutions,

The Role of Higher Education

While UAE graduates are generally satisfied with the education they receive, many are finding it difficult to find their first job. The main reasons for these challenges are lack of previous work experience (59%), and not knowing how to approach the job search effectively (41%). 

Seven in 10 respondents from the UAE considered the availability of jobs in their field of study before deciding on their degree. However, for 63% of UAE respondents, their college did not help them identify or apply for a suitable job. For the remaining 37%, their college helped in a number of ways including career days (46%) job announcements (38%), and open days where companies visit campus to discuss job opportunities with students (35%).

Across the region, engineering was the most popular subject amongst fresh graduates (22%), followed by accounting/finance (15%) and business/commerce/economics (14%). Similarly, in the UAE, one in every three respondents studied engineering in their bachelor/master/PhD degree. Other popular areas of study included business/commerce/economics (22%), accounting/finance (14%), and information technology/computer sciences (12%).

“The recent survey suggests that, while graduates are getting a good and satisfactory education, they are facing serious challenges in their first job hunt. While academic performance is key, fresh graduates also need to rely on extrinsic skills development, work placement and search tools to connect with employers of choice and break into their industry. Even if these tools aren’t offered by the educational institution, job seekers have plenty of online job sites and tools that prepare them for their career journey,” said Kerry McLaren, Head of Omnibus MENA, YouGov.

Research was done with 1293 graduates, who had completed their most recent qualification in the last three years, and was conducted from 22 May until 28 June 2018, from the KSA, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, UAE, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Qatar, and Bahrain. All responses were collected online.

Background Information is the leading job site in the Middle East and North Africa, connecting job seekers with employers looking to hire. Every day, thousands of new job vacancies are listed on the award-winning platform from the region's top employers.

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