ABU DHABI // A respectful and challenging work environment - rather than a high salary - is what employers need to attract local graduates, students from Abu Dhabi University told the second annual Emiratisation Forum yesterday. Alanoud al Madhi will be graduating with a degree in management next month. In her search for the right job, she was clear on one thing: future employers must provide development opportunities to employees.
"I seek a clear career path for myself and need a job where I will be able to develop and learn more about the environment I'm in," said Ms al Madhi at the Forum, which is hosted at Abu Dhabi University. "The first thing I would always ask a future employer is 'what is the career path'." Her peers - the English student Maitha al Mazroui, the human resources and management student Shamsa al Qubaisi and the marketing student Zainab al Refaei - agreed.
"The salary does play a part, of course," said Ms al Mazroui, "but a supportive team and a development and training programme that will only make me more productive as an employee is also very important." It is this focus on factors such as training programmes, development and motivation that has three out of the four young women preferring a job in the private sector to a government position. Ms al Qubaisi's experience gained from a work-placement programme in the public sector has her hoping for a future placement in the private sector.
"The private sector gives you time flexibility, and I can work on my masters if I want while working," she said. "The chances and opportunities provided in the private sector are also much better, because the government sector has a lot of people applying, so it makes it harder for me to land the right job." Ms al Madhi preferred the challenges of the private sector. "I will be expected to prove myself, which will drive me to do more in order to meet the challenge, and this way I will also develop more in my skills," she said. "When I am given a challenging task, that will mean that my boss believes in me and thinks I can handle it, which is a form of recognition."
Regardless of where they end up, all four students hoped that their employers would not underestimate the importance of recognition and appreciation. "It increases confidence and makes you work even harder and better so you can be worthy of the praise you have received," said Ms al Refaei. "The organisation we work for has to give us the opportunity to shine. I have to be able to do my best so I can prove myself and show what I am good at, and I have to be told when I am doing well and when I am not."
Ms al Qubaisi appealed to employers to invest in her generation. "Women are also Emirati citizens who can work and work well," she said. Dr Gene Crozier, the vice president of strategy and business solutions at the Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group, said that "unemployment among women between ages 23 and 34 is the highest statistic" in the UAE. "Employers need to do their utmost for that statistic among women to be reduced because they are an incredible resource that this country needs and they need to be fully and gainfully employed," he said.