Lately, I have been meeting many new graduates from different nationalities who have been finding it tough to land a job in their home countries.
Those from the region are waiting for offers from government or semi-government organisations. One of them said that she has been waiting for an offer for 18 months from a government entity in her country, but with no luck.
“Government jobs provide security and better offers than private sector companies. I’d rather wait,” she said.
When I was growing up, many adults around me worked at government or semi-government organisations, and most remained with the same companies until they retired.
Government jobs are favoured in the region for reasons such as job security, higher pay and shorter working hours.
Therefore, it was normal for the children of government employees to want to follow in their footsteps, and some even wanted to work for the same companies their parents worked for.
When I met a pre-teen relative five years ago and asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he would love to own a chain of restaurants. However, he couldn’t pursue that dream because his mother wanted him to secure a government job first and chase his entrepreneurship dream as a side business.
Our generation faces many challenges as well as opportunities that were not available to our parents.
About 85 per cent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet, according to a 2018 report by Dell Technologies and authored by the Institute For The Future.
As part of the UAE’s continuing mission to diversify its economy, the government is encouraging more people to join the private sector and start their own businesses.
Last year, the UAE rolled out a Dh24 billion ($6.5bn) private sector Emirati Competitiveness Programme, which aims to create 75,000 new private sector roles for Emiratis.
A few years ago, only 1.5 per cent of graduates were starting their own businesses. This rate has now risen to 5 per cent, according to Ahmed Al Falasi, the UAE’s former Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and now Minister for Education who oversees public and private schools and universities nationwide
While it’s positive to see more graduates starting their own businesses, there is more to be done.
The encouragement should come from home and educational institutions. I often hear from many young entrepreneurs how they’d love to start their own business but their family members don’t encourage them or they haven’t been able to meet role models from their community who have become successful.
Young children listen to their parents and often follow in their footsteps. If they don’t receive encouragement from home or educational institutions, then it can be more challenging for them to consider embarking on an entrepreneurship journey.
My parents' and my elementary teacher’s comments on my creative work and their encouragement to become a writer were one of the reasons why I pursue professional writing today.
Educational institutions should introduce young students to successful entrepreneurs from their local communities. Young children need to hear it first-hand from people they can relate to.
This could also be incorporated as part of the reading material and case studies shared in the classrooms.
Special programmes could be tailored for parents and success stories of entrepreneurs can be shared with them. They should also be aware of how entrepreneurship helps our economy grow.
My journey as an entrepreneur wasn’t free of challenges. But the knowledge I gained is incomparable and helped me grow fast in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’m glad to be doing my part to help the economy prosper.
Parents and educational institutions have a vital role to play and their encouragement could drive our economy to prosper further.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.