1 in 3 fresh graduates got their first job in less than 6 months
Young job seekers and recent graduates continue to enter the job market in the Middle East and North Africa, competing for entry level jobs very actively. Bayt.com - the Middle East’s #1 Job Site - and YouGov - global online market research company - recently conducted a survey titled “Fresh Graduates in the MENA”, in which more than two thirds of MENA respondents (69%) claimed that they found or plan to find their first job through leading online job sites. Further, over one third (35%)of respondents in the MENA region claim that they found their first job in less than six months.
Most attractive industries
Over a quarter (26%) of respondents in the MENA region said that the most appealing industry for a career is Banking/Finance. This was closely followed by Engineering/Design (22%) and Business/ Consultancy (20%). When it came to which industries respondents see hiring the highest number offresh graduates in the MENA, almost a quarter of them said Advertising/Marketing (23%),one in five said Banking/Finance (20%), and 18% said Military/Defense/Police (18%).
When asked why respondents think these industries employ more fresh graduates compared to others, 42% said that these industries believe fresh graduates have “lower expectation on salary”. This was followed by 34% of respondents believing that fresh graduates are “compliant and willing to follow instructions” and 28% who said that fresh graduates are “able to handle more challenges”.
When selecting a job in the MENA region, being passionate about the job itself emerged as the most important factor when selecting a job, according to 44% ofrespondents.9% said that salary was an important factor when selecting a job. Another 7% of respondents also mentioned that a “well known organization”, “opportunities for career progression” and “good reputation for ethical practices” are all important attributes when selecting a job.
Salary expectations are varied in MENA, with30% of respondents saying that they received or would expect to receive a salary of up to $500 in their first job. Another 22% of respondents said that they received or would expect to receive a salary between $501 and 1,000 in their first job. 21% of respondents received or would expect to receive a salary between $1,001 and 2,000. Only 9% said that they would expect a salary of over $2,000 for their first job, while 17% said they don’t know or are not sure about their salary expectations. In addition to a basic salary, other benefits that respondents expect the most include personal medical insurance (45%), training /development allowance (36%), as well as housing allowance/ company provided accommodation (33%).
Choosing a field of study
Almost one in four respondents (24%) have studied Engineering. Accounting/Finance (18%), Business/Commerce/Economics (16%), Information Technology/Computer Sciences (11%), and Sciences (9%) were also among the most popular subjects. Over two thirds of fresh graduates (68%) in the MENA region said that they considered the availability of jobs in their potential field before deciding their major. On the other hand, less than one in three (32%) said they did not consider job availability prior to their decision.
Respondents were asked if they believe they would have fared better in the job market with a different major or a different school. While 44% said no, 28% said that they would have fared better with a different major and 17% said that they would have fared better with a different major and a different school. When it came to whether there was a link between the field respondents studied and where they are employed, surprisingly, more than four in 10 respondents (43%) said that they were not employed in their field of study.
Role of Higher Education
The majority (75%) of fresh graduates in the MENA region said that they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the quality of higher education they had received. Only 15% said that they were somewhat or very dissatisfied and the rest of respondents (9%) were neutral. However, when it came to the role of higher education in preparing students for their industry of choice, only 22% of MENA respondents said their university helped “completely”, 17% said it helped to “a large extent”, and 34% said it helped “but only to some extent”.
More than one in five (21%) said their university didn’t help them in this aspect, while the rest of the respondents (6%) didn’t give their opinion. Only 32% of fresh graduates in MENA claimed that they received help from their Institute to find job opportunities during their time as college students, while68% said they didn’t receive any support. For those who did receive help, the most common ways were “help with CV and Cover Letter writing” (40%), “career fairs” (36%),”job announcements” (34%) and “open days/campus recruitment” (32%).
When asked what challenges fresh graduates face most in the MENA region, ‘finding a job’ emerged as the top challenge (77%).This was followed by ‘saving money’ (38%) and ‘discovering what we want to do in life’ (35%). When respondents were searching for a job the greatest challenges they faced included the fact that ‘employers were looking for candidates with previous work experience’ (51%), this was followed by the challenge of ‘knowing how to approach the job search effectively’ (38%) and knowing ‘where to find relevant jobs’ (36%).
Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com, said:”Fresh graduates seeking to secure their first job should take advantage of the numerous entry-level jobs, internships, as well as information about the job market that Bayt.com regularly provides. Today, and on any given day, over 10,000 jobs are available on our job site, nearly 5,000 of which are suitable for young job seekers and fresh graduates.
For more than 17 years, we have been successfully designing solutions at Bayt.com to help employers find the most suitable young talent and help job seekers highlight their skills and gain more knowledge on how to approach the job search effectively.” Respondents also said that industries are hesitant in hiring fresh graduates because they may lack the needed experience (64%) as well as skills (34%).
Respondents commented on what skills they believe are required to excel in the workplace, with more than half (59%) saying computer skills. This was followed by linguistic and communication skills (36% each) academic and technical skills (35%). Yet despite these challenges for fresh graduates In the MENA region, most of them are reportedly highly skilled. Almost all respondents (91%) rated themselves as “good” or “very good” when it comes to communication skills. 90% rated themselves as “good” or “very good” in flexibility/adaptability to change, and 90% rated themselves as “good” or “very good” in computer skills.
“Although fresh graduates are reportedly highly content with the quality of education they received, it seems that their institutions fell a bit short on preparing them for the job search, “said Anjali Chhabra, Senior Research Manager, YouGov. “The survey shows that fresh graduates are finding a lot of value in searching for a job online as they look for opportunities in a competitive and crowded job market.” Looking at the future, more than four in 10 respondents (42%) say they will keep looking until they find a job. 27% said that they will start looking for a job in another industry / job role of their choice. 15% will start looking for a job no matter what industry / job role it is.
Four in 10 respondents (40%) remain optimistic about their career and educational opportunities for their generation compared to their parents’ generation. 35% claimed that they are not optimistic and don’t believe that their generation has better opportunities. 25% were neutral or did not respond to this question. Data for the 2017 Bayt.com ‘Fresh Graduates in the MENA Survey’ was collected online from June 21st to July 12th, 2017. Results are based on a sample of1,865 respondents. Countries that participated are the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and others.