Employers in UAE looking beyond grades when hiring, survey finds

A study revealed more than half of graduates had secured jobs before they left education

UAE employers are looking beyond the grades when hiring new recruits, a study has found.

The survey of more than 450 UAE graduates found that higher marks does not increase the likelihood of landing a job.

Research revealed that a higher percentage of graduates who achieved lower scores in university exams had secured positions than those who were at the top of the class.

More than half of those polled had already gained employment ahead of graduation.

The survey was conducted by Oliv, a Dubai-based technology firm that runs a youth employment platform and Noon.com, a UAE-based e-commerce platform, with the views of 452 graduates and 216 students sought.

Major employers such as Google and Apple have recently dropped the requirement of a college degree for applicants.

Jean-Michel Gauthier, chief executive officer and founder of Oliv, said the results were indicative of employers acknowledging that academic achievement was only part of the equation when it came to hiring the right talent.

“It’s positive to see UAE employers following the global trend towards much more holistic hiring processes that take into account a whole range of factors, not just education," he said.

"This is really important because while grades are an indicator of success at university, the working world is a very different environment and requires effective relationship management, communications skills, decision-making abilities and many other skills not reflected in university grades."

The survey also found that 70 per cent of graduates polled had completed some form of work experience, of which only 27 per cent was unpaid.

This is a marked improvement on last year, when the survey found that four out of ten internships or work placements were unpaid.

“It’s also good to see a decrease in unpaid internships and work experience in this year’s survey. For employers to really get the maximum value out of internship programmes they need to invest in them - both time and money," said Mr Gauthier.

Students in UAE are optimistic about securing employment after graduating, with 43 per cent of respondents saying they were confident they would get a job in the country. A quarter of students said they would be willing to wait for a year to find a role in the country.

According to Oliv's survey, 37 per cent of students and graduates believe universities need to focus on careers fairs to facilitate jobs for students.

A total of 63 per cent of the respondents said they wished to work for multinational corporations while only 11 per cent wanted to work in the government sector.