Engineering graduates most in demand in UAE

Major new jobs report underlines what courses university leavers in the Emirates should aim for

SHARJAH , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð April 6 , 2015 : Lutfi Albasha , Associate Professor , Electrical Engineering  ( center ) with Mansour Taghadosi ( 2nd from right )  and Eiman Elghanam ( 1st from right ) students of Electrical Engineering doing research on energy harvesting in the clean room at Microwave Imaging and Nondestructive Evaluation Laboratory at American University of Sharjah in Sharjah. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Melanie Swan
 *** Local Caption ***  PS0604- AUS RESEARCH03.jpg

Graduates with engineering, business, IT or medical sciences degrees have the best chances of employment in the UAE, a new study has found.

The Emirates-wide research revealed those who studied civil engineering were the most likely to be snapped up when entering the job market.

Other core specialties in high demand in the business field included marketing, finance and accounting.

In respect of medical degrees, general medicine and surgery came out top in offering the best employment opportunities while dentistry came last.

"This is large scale research and of special value because it sheds light on the future specialisations required in the UAE market," said Dr Samia Al Farra, an education consultant who works in schools in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

"It is imperative to continue guiding and counselling students in schools to enable them to choose their degrees."

The new study - called Majors in Demand – is published annually by the Ministry of Education.

It aims to provide “academic support and counselling” for those students preparing to pursue their higher education within the UAE.

Researchers canvassed more than 13,000 students graduating from government and private higher education institutions in 2017.

The substantial sample covered more than 80 per cent of institutes across all seven emirates, according to the report’s authors.

It focused on engineering, business administration, arts and humanities, education, IT, environmental and health sciences, medical sciences, law, science, and agriculture.

The results of the research came as thousands of undergraduates across the country grapple with what degree courses to opt for.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - March 1st, 2018: Shamsa Al Falasi is an Emirati woman scientist who works as an aluminium lab specialist. Thursday, March 1st, 2018. Jebel Ali, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Authorities hope the survey will go some way in raising awareness among soon-to-be university students about the current needs of the labour market, steering them towards developing the right sets of skills.

The report’s findings showed engineering degrees, as measured by the number of those who secured employment compared to the number of overall graduates, were the most in demand.

Meanwhile, those who finished degrees in education in 2017 were the fastest to find employment, followed by business administration, IT, then engineering. Environmental and health science degrees lagged behind.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 5, 2012:  
Seventeen-year-old Omar Khaled Mohammed al Zubairi, who's hoping t become a mechanical engineer, fills out his application and  registration forms during the first day of admissions at the Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute on Sunday, August 5, 2012, in Abu Dhabi. (Photo / Silvia Razgova)

“The UAE has a pioneering academic and educational system that makes it stand out, both regionally and globally,” said Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills.

“This study is an ideal forecasting tool for students to outline their academic careers through studying at public and private higher education institutions around the UAE.

“Equipping our talent with scientific knowledge and advanced skills - which are now a major global competitive advantage - is our best leap for moving past simply receiving knowledge to creating it ourselves, which supports efforts to build the post-oil knowledge economy.”


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Results of the study appeared to underline the importance of undergraduates opting for specialised, technical degree subjects over more general ones.

Accounting and finance, for example, were found to be more in-demand than general business administration, and the same applied to education degrees, where early childhood and special education performed better than general education and teaching.

On a similar note, researchers also revealed an increase in demand for specialised law degrees, such as commercial law and international law.

The Ministry of Education is currently working with higher education institutions to guarantee these subjects are compatible with current labour market demands, ensuring they are taught in both English and Arabic.

Current programmes are only taught in Arabic and experts see the shift to English as being essential as the UAE increasingly caters to international markets, attracting investment from around the world.

“The study's results are largely in line with the employment ratios of Zayed University graduates,” said Prof Reyadh Almehaideb, vice-president of Zayed University.

“The highest percentages [of job opportunities include] the fields of Business Administration, [including] finance, accounting, marketing and management.

“[Next is] Information Technology followed by the specialisation in Early Childhood Education and Science, Environment, Nutrition and Public Health, Psychology and Media and International Studies.”


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