Majority of UAE jobseekers considering switching industries in 2021

Health care, engineering and banking and finance are the most popular sectors for people seeking a career change, new survey finds

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A majority of jobseekers in the UAE are considering switching industries as new career opportunities open up in sectors such as health care, engineering and banking, according to a survey by jobs site and YouGov.

About 56 per cent of professionals in the Emirates are seeking an industry change in the next few months, citing better career growth and higher salaries, the survey found.

The survey polled more than 2,300 people in 17 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

Border closures and movement restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic affected the global jobs market in 2020, leading to salary cuts and redundancies. However, as economies reopen, new career opportunities have opened up, the survey said.

“Despite a challenging year, many industries in the UAE have introduced new career opportunities for jobseekers.”

In the current economic climate, survey respondents said the top three industries for job security are in government (31 per cent), followed by military, defence and police (27 per cent), and oil, gas and petrochemicals (23 per cent).

“The job market is constantly evolving and so are the needs of jobseekers,” said Ola Haddad, director of human resources at

“In order to understand the factors influencing industry attractiveness, we conducted the … survey to determine how people identify, apply for and evaluate job opportunities across a range of industries. For recruiters, the data will help foster deeper engagement and higher application rates.”

About 23 per cent of UAE survey respondents said they had changed industries at least once in the past two years. Of those who moved into a new sector, 46 per cent said they were seeking better opportunities for career growth, 43 per cent wanted a higher salary while 22 per cent cited a lack of recognition in their current roles.

Most job seekers in 2021 are interested in working in health care (15 per cent), engineering and design (12 per cent) and banking and finance (9 per cent).

When it comes to the work-life balance, the public sector also came out on top at 37 per cent, followed by oil, gas and petrochemicals at 20 per cent and the IT and e-commerce sector at 17 per cent.

Meanwhile, health care and medical services (26 per cent) and banking and finance (25 per cent) were the most attractive industries for women. About 29 per cent of all survey respondents said the oil, gas and petrochemicals sector offered the best career growth and salary packages, followed by IT at 21 per cent.

However, when asked to look ahead, 32 per cent of respondents said the IT sector is the top industry expected to record the strongest growth next year in the UAE.

“Our latest survey has unearthed a whole host of invaluable insights into jobseeker preferences and satisfaction levels with various industries, on attributes including salary and benefits, work-life balance, career growth and job security,” said Zafar Shah, research director of data services at YouGov Mena.

“Industries across the region must ensure that they are responding to jobseekers’ changing needs.”

Updated: August 29, 2021, 7:58 AM