Challenges to Fresh Graduates in the UAE

By Aisha Yaqub.

The recession and economic downturn has left many people in a lurch. It has adversely affected many people, while some people benefited by it. Where the recession has meant, people losing their jobs or, their salaries being cut in half, or people needing to put in more hours at work, it has also brought a stop to the inflation and growing Real Estate prices in the UAE. People have accepted their new life to a certain extent, after the recession hit. Where does this leave the graduates?

Many graduates might be feeling the brunt of the recession, now that they are in the real practical world looking for jobs. While students in University are protected and sheltered to a certain extent, it only becomes obvious to them, about how hard and practical the real world is, when they leave University. “It is a tough life outside University, where a man or woman has to fend for themselves, look for a job, grow up all of a sudden in many cases and act mature.” Chivonne Decius, a student of American University in Dubai says when asked about how she felt after graduating. “Their demeanour is professional and suited to the task at hand. To find a job!” she further adds. Right now, many fresh graduates in the UAE are doing the same, but they are faced with challenges.

Finding a job in many cases is already hard for newly graduated students, but since the recession has hit the UAE, it has become even more harder to land an interview, let alone gain a job. A newly graduate is like a one of many fishes in the sea. A graduate is like a person in a crowd. There are many other people like him or her. So what makes the graduate capable of obtaining the job of his or her choice? Anshul Punj also a fresh graduate of American University in Dubai says “The graduate should have skills at hand, should be confident and outspoken, should have participated in a lot of extra-curricular activities in University.” He further adds that “The employers look for a certain criteria, like where the person has graduated from, but they also look at how the person presents themselves, how well their CV has been made, how well they conduct themselves during the interview. Everything counts these days, towards gaining a job.”

Graduates in the UAE not only have to face stiff competition from other graduates, but also graduates who come back to the UAE after studying abroad. They have to tackle the issue of no experience. Employers usually like to hire people with some experience or prior knowledge about the job. They don’t like to waste precious time or resources in to training a person for the job. They would much rather hire someone who already knows what they are supposed to do. Also graduates have to face competition from people who have done their Masters. These days people who have done Bachelors or Masters both apply for the same jobs. Employers have preference of hiring people with a Masters degree, rather than a Bachelors degree.

Umar Talib, a Business and Economics professor at the Zayed University in Abu Dhabi was asked whether things were going to get better for the graduates and he said “It has been nearly two years to the day when recession hit the UAE. Things have started to improve a lot. The federal government is working on clearing the debts, a research was done which showed a job vacancy increase of 33% and in general things are getting better where economic situation is concerned. Employers are more open to hiring people now.” He also said “Fresh graduates will find lots more work and job opportunities now, but mind you that there will be a lot more competition too. As more vacancies open up, it also means even more people applying for the same job.”

Disheartened, graduates certainly should not be. “They should keep trying and apply at as many places they can. Do not give up, even if you have not received even a single interview call. Just keep hoping for the best.” Both Anshul and Chivonne had to say. With things looking to improve in the UAE, it is time the graduates got their CV writing skills brushed up, polished their shoes and took out their suits. Both Anshul and Chivonne are employed now, Anshul working for IBM and Chivonne working for Emirates Motor Company.

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