UAE- Get the right degree to ensure employment on graduation

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) One of the proudest moments of a young adult's life is when he or she receives a university degree. Three or four years of sweat and perseverance, depending on their chosen field has finally paid off and they are about to enter the job market and earn an income.

What about those students in the UAE who are unable to find a job upon graduation? Because, unfortunately for them, they graduated with what is being called a "dead degree".

At EdaraLab, a recent education management conference held in Dubai, business leaders and educators met to discuss how universities and businesses can work together to ensure fresh graduates get a job. Universities are being encouraged to work with businesses to research which industries and jobs are thriving at that point in, time and future jobs that may be needed.

For 2017, the most in-demand educational degrees are business management, with 33 per cent of employers looking these graduates, according to online job search services's Middle East job index survey. A degree in engineering comes in second place, with 32 per cent employers vying for them. Commerce is third in line (with 25 per cent of employers), followed science (19 per cent), and 17 per cent of employers want graduates with administrative qualifications and 19 per cent seek graduates with IT degrees.

When it comes to specific individual skills, the most sought after traits are being a team player and cooperative (53 per cent of employers), ability to work under pressure (50 per cent) and good bilingual communication skills, in English and Arabic (47 per cent).

Degrees that ranked quite low in employability were arts qualifications, at 4 per cent, interior or fashion design degrees (5 per cent) and law education (3 per cent). Others that scored low were psychology, social sciences, statistics, flight training, medical and teaching qualifications.

Students often end up choosing a programme they are most passionate about, maybe without doing their research if that specific degree is in demand in the job market. For instance, those who currently hold arts qualifications may struggle to find employment, considering only four per cent of employers in the UAE are demanding graduates from these streams.

So, who is responsible for ensuring that university programmes meet the needs of the job market?

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) works with businesses and higher educational institutions to ensure they provide operating licences to only those universities that offer a study area relevant to the market.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the head of licensing and accreditation at Adek, Dr Walid Yasin, said: "The partnership between businesses and higher education institutions is key to the success of a graduate's education and them joining the labour market after graduation.

According to Adek criteria, if a new body wants to set up in Abu Dhabi, Adek ensures that they have researched the market and are meeting the social-economic-cultural needs of Abu Dhabi, Dr Yasin noted. "The first criteria for us to give them operating authorisation is fitness to socio-economic cultural needs. To offer a programme, they need to prove their case how that programme will meet the emirate's needs. They need to prioritise emirate's and the country's job markets. They have to show how their graduates will fill gaps in that particular industry.

"The focus of the UAE now is in 'steam' fields - science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. We are encouraging institutions to work with employers to ensure the skills needed to work in that area and the proposed jobs for the future. Working to develop graduates in that field will meet the needs of the market."


Khaleej Times

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