MENA’s education produced graduates depending on their residency and nationality status have a wide range of difficulties that have extensively been covered by the survey described below. 

This latter however did not touch on the specifics related to the nationality / residency qualification of the respondents which does have a fairly substantial impact on the individual fresh graduate’s future and life generally in the MENA.

As we all know, these countries are increasingly being faced with similar challenges to those of their western counterparts when faced with balancing their need to develop whilst taking into account the related impact of these developments on the environment, communities and individuals in what has become a perpetually impossible balance between these three sustainability departments.

For instance, the GCC countries, presently developing their built environments, are more and more confronting sustainability issues related to their environmental, economic and social order. 

We are concerned here with this last item as it relates to employment opportunities for local people, education and training and related engagement of business and government alike. 

Fresh graduates of MENA greatest challenge : finding a job ?  Where and for how much ? ? ?

According to BAYT and survey agency  MENA yougovFresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa’ survey , 75% of the MENA fresh graduates Africa used or plan to use leading online job sites.  The majority of respondents state that finding a job is the biggest challenge of their generation; in line with this, 80% are leaning towards entrepreneurship as a potential future career option.

The study has also revealed that 23% of the respondents obtained their most recent qualification in Egypt, followed by Jordan, at 17%.  The two most common fields of study pursued by respondents were engineering (28%) and accounting / finance (18%).  67% of graduates were satisfied with the quality of higher education they received; in fact, 43% consider the preparation it gave them for the workplace to be ‘very good’ or ‘good’.  Qualification of teachers (78%), curriculum (69%), teaching methods applied (59%), quality of infrastructure (56%), technology usage (55%), and value for money paid (55%), are also rated positively by all respondents.

More than a third of fresh graduates living in MENA (39%) do not feel that they would have fared better in the job market if they had chosen a different major or different school, with 63% admitting to having considered the job availability in the field they chose to major in prior to enrolment.  In contrast, 33% of working MENA respondents ended up working in a totally different industry.

The most appealing industries

Based on the survey, in the MENA region, the most appealing industries from a career perspective are banking and finance (24%) and engineering and design (23%).  Business consultancy, business management and management consulting (19%) and education and academia (16%) are also popular industries among fresh graduates from MENA. Fortunately, two thirds of respondents (64%) claim that their education prepared them to target the industry of their choice.

For almost half of MENA respondents (44%), the most important attribute when selecting a job is experience in the field they want to work in.  While most MENA respondents (75%) rely on leading online job sites to search for employment opportunities, direct applications to target companies (51%) and a resourceful network of family and friends (47%) are also highly valued and used.

Up to 45% of fresh graduates living in MENA state that landing their first job was/will be ‘very difficult’.  Most respondents (60%) feel that the biggest challenge they face in finding a job is the fact that employers are looking for candidates with previous experience.  Knowing where to find relevant jobs and how to approach the job search effectively are also considered to be challenges by 39% and 34% of them, respectively.

16% of MENA respondents claim that it took / will take less than 3 months for them to find their first job.  For 32% of them, the job search lasted / will last between 3 and 12 months, while only 3% got or are expecting to get a job directly through campus placements.  A quarter of MENA respondents (26%) stayed or anticipate staying in their first job for 1-2 years.

Salary expectations

Salary expectations for fresh graduates living in MENA are not high; 31% expect to receive / have received up to $500, while 12% anticipate a salary between $501-1,000.  A large portion (68%) of MENA respondents expect to be offered / were offered a basic salary.  38% are also looking to receive / have received personal medical insurance and 29% anticipate a training and development course allowance.  A quarter expect to receive housing allowance.

According to 80 percent of MENA respondents, their college or university did not help them identify job opportunities.  Overall, 52 percent of graduates living in MENA acquired work experience either before or during their time at university.

The survey has revealed that 66% of MENA respondents are planning to pursue higher education, with the US (26%) being the most popular destination to do so outside of their country of residence, followed by the UK (24%).  Graduates are also eager to travel abroad for employment purposes, with 64% saying that they might consider moving elsewhere for a job.

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