survey reveals that 73% of UAE graduates are considering setting up their own business
July 20th, 2014, YouGov survey reveals that 73% of UAE graduates are considering setting up their own business

81% state finding a job is the biggest challenge, with banking and finance being the preferred industry to work in.

The ’Fresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa’ survey, recently conducted by, the region’s number one job site, and leading market research agency, YouGov, has revealed that despite the majority of respondents in the UAE stating that finding a job is a challenge faced by their generation of fresh graduates, 73% are considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Four in 10 UAE graduates completed their most recent qualification in the UAE, with 30% having studied business, commerce or marketing as part of their highest degree. 82% were satisfied with the quality of higher education they received, considering the preparation it gave them for the workplace to be mostly ‘good’ (40%). Teaching methods, quality of infrastructure, technology usage for effective teaching, value for money paid, curriculum and qualification of teachers are also considered to be ‘good’ by UAE graduates.

The majority (59%) do not feel that they would have fared better in the job market if they had chosen a different major or different school, with 61% stating that they considered the job availability in the field they chose to major in prior to enrolment. The majority of working respondents (69%) are currently employed in their field of study.

According to UAE graduates, the most appealing industries from a career point of view are banking and finance (25%), business consultancy, business management or management consulting (22%), and advertising and marketing (19%). A third of respondents (32%) state that their education prepared them to target the industry of their choice to ‘a large extent’.

For four in 10 UAE respondents, the most important attribute when selecting a job is experience in the field they want to work in, followed by choosing a well-known organisation to work for. When seeking their first job, 80% of UAE graduates used or plan to use leading online job sites. Direct applications to target companies and finding a job through their network of family and friends are also highly used.

Most graduates (70%) feel that the biggest challenge they face in finding a job is that employers are looking for candidates with previous experience, though knowing where to find relevant jobs is also considered to be a challenge by 37%. It took less than 3 months for 28% of working respondents to find their first job. About a quarter of respondents (24%) stayed or anticipate staying in their first job for 1-2 years.

Salary expectations for UAE fresh graduates are high; 18% expect to receive between US$2001-3000, while 17% anticipate US$1501-2000.

According to 74% of respondents, their college or university did not help them to identify job opportunities. For those whose colleges assisted them, job announcements (60%) and career fairs (60%) helped them.

Almost seven in 10 (68%) respondents acquired work experience either before or during their time at university, with 36% having spent 1-6 months in a work placement.

63% of UAE graduates are planning to pursue higher education, with the US being the most popular destination to do so outside of their country of residence. Graduates are also keen to travel abroad for employment purposes, with 58% stating they will consider relocating for a job. They would prefer to move to the US (37%), Qatar (30%), Canada (30%), or the UK (30%).

When asked what challenges their generation face the most, 81% stated that finding a job is a challenge. This is followed by being able to financially afford a basic lifestyle (32%) and saving money (31%). 67% claim there is a low availability of jobs for fresh graduates in the UAE. However, 32% claim to be very optimistic that their generation has better career and educational opportunities in comparison to their parents’ generation.

49% of UAE graduates consider communication skills to be among the most important skills required to excel in the workplace, followed by computer skills (45%) and academic and technical skills (44%). Fresh graduates in the UAE consider their skills in negotiation, leadership, linguistics, problem-solving and analytical thinking, academic and technical skills, and computers to be ‘good’; they consider themselves to be ‘very good’ in communications, interpersonal and team playing skills, and flexibility.

The majority of UAE fresh graduates (73%) may consider, or are actively considering, setting up their own business in the future.

Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, said: “It’s interesting that most graduates feel that the biggest challenge is that employers are looking for candidates with previous experience, when in fact, our research constantly proves that many employers in the MENA are heavily hiring fresh graduates. To feel more comfortable, we advise fresh graduates to work on their transferable skills as well as to take as many relevant courses as possibly, mainly on leadership. Adding transferable skills and coursework to their CVs will certainly make an impact with hiring managers. At, our mission is to empower people to lead better lives, and we have thousands of job opportunities online on for fresh graduates in particular.”

“The perceived lack of employment opportunities may actually prove a positive turn of events for fresh graduates, who are mostly considering entrepreneurship, or setting up their own business, as a viable option for their future.” said Joao Neves, Head of Research of YouGov MENA. “This will prove beneficial for the overall economy, creating more jobs, which in turn that will help future generations of fresh graduates to find employment.”

Data for the ‘Fresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa’ survey was collected online from May 26-June 26 2014, with 1,586 respondents from UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

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