Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Emirates Airline was named in the top 10 first class cabins by therichest.com. Find out what position it came here.
AD200910711299956AR
AD200910711299956AR

Nations gain from intern programmes

A recent report by Reuters highlighted an acute shortage of Gulf graduates, especially in the competitive Saudi Arabian financial sector.

A recent report by Reuters highlighted an acute shortage of Gulf graduates, especially in the competitive Saudi Arabian financial sector.As a result, there is a need for companies in the private and public sectors to consider the effectiveness and scope of their graduate recruitment and internship schemes. These can play a beneficial role for both parties if carried out correctly: for graduates and interns, to understand how the real world operates and give them a chance to assess their career interests; and for employers to assess the graduate's abilities before making long-term hiring commitments.

As greater numbers of graduates come on to the market, some companies are not increasing their graduate intake, while others are winding back on such schemes altogether, especially in times of cost cutting.In the advanced western economies, internship programmes and graduate recruitment schemes have played a prominent role, not only in terms of public relations and social responsibility for the companies concerned, but in ensuring there is a continuous flow of fresh ideas and new blood to companies.

Graduates are welcomed to think outside the box while learning from old hands. Mentors ensure that the corporate ethos lives on.In the Gulf, with a few exceptions, such schemes, especially short-term internships, are not a common feature of most companies, which prefer to hire trained professionals. Some argue that they do not have the necessary mentoring skills or capacity in-house to ensure a meaningful internship programme, and that it is far better not to have one instead of going through the motions and causing frustration among all concerned.

This is a valid argument, as it has been observed that the standard of internship supervision has declined over the years for university co-op placement programmes as the number of intakes have risen. Banks in particular have been hard pressed to come up with training programmes that often last up to seven months in Saudi Arabia.Given current earning pressure on bank employees, internship training is probably the last item on senior bank executive's minds. It certainly seems to be the case for some blue-chip western companies that had prided themselves on programmes.

The giant UK telecommunications company BT has become one of the first big-name companies to scrap its graduate recruitment scheme, adding to fears that dwindling job prospects may lead to a "lost generation".BT blamed the economy for the decision to axe the scheme and said there was no certainty when it might start recruiting again. The company is Britain's ninth-largest employer, with 147,000 workers. The numbers of graduates applying for its scheme had grown substantially in the past three years, from 3,800 in 2007 to the 4,800 competing for 130 jobs this year. The decision to suspend the programme is a hard blow for UK graduate employment.

In the Gulf, youth unemployment is high, especially among graduates, and jobs are not being created fast enough to absorb new college leavers.Some Gulf countries, for example Qatar, do not face such a problem, while others with larger and younger populations such as Saudi Arabia admit more should be done.They have sponsored vocational training and placement programmes to ensure that job entrants have the appropriate technical skills needed by the private sector. Gulf governments, like those in the West, are being forced to act urgently to prevent youth unemployment reaching unacceptable levels.

A survey released last month found that the number of graduate vacancies in Britain had fallen by 24.9 per cent this year, much steeper than the 6.5 per cent decline in vacancies in 2002.Information technology has been the hardest hit, with a 44.5 per cent decline in vacancies, says the report, from the Association of Graduate Recruiters. The same trends are being felt in the Gulf, with the once popular IT sector now experiencing graduate unemployment, while interest in chemical, petroleum and mining engineering has risen among graduates. Whatever career choices are being made, competition is becoming fiercer.

The UK association said the market is becoming far more competitive, with 49 applicants for each vacancy this year, compared with 31 for each graduate job advertised last year and 28 in 2006.In some Gulf countries the graduate prospects are just as dismal, despite the Gulf hosting millions of expatriate workers and seeking more qualified foreigners to build their economic infrastructure. The situation is not as simple as it looks, as some have argued that there are more than enough jobs for Gulf nationals if they replace foreigners. The issue is simple: most of the jobs filled by foreigners are not the ones that Gulf graduates would like to do, while many jobs require years of skilled experience.

Building a national skilled labour force takes time. Commitment to quality graduate placement will ensure that appropriate business and work ethics are being instilled at an early in Gulf youngsters, irrespective of whether they stay on with the same company training them or not. The nation as a whole will benefit in the long run.Dr Mohamed A Ramady is a former banker and visiting associate professor, finance and economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National