x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Job applications by the busload at Emirates Transport

Emirati graduates tell of expectations, and some frustrations, as they hunt for emploment and career options to suit their qualifications.

Khalfan Al Neaimi, a third-year business and economy student, applies for one of the 60 positions on offer at the Emirates Transport job fair at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai yesterday. Sarah Dea / The National
Khalfan Al Neaimi, a third-year business and economy student, applies for one of the 60 positions on offer at the Emirates Transport job fair at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai yesterday. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // Emiratis were queuing outside a Dubai hotel ballroom from 7am yesterday for a chance at one of 60 jobs at Emirates Transport.

By the time the doors closed at 5pm, 950 jobseekers had registered their interest for positions in departments such as human resources, fleet administration, operations or finances.

"Frankly, we were overwhelmed with the turnout," said Hanadi Saqer, head of human resources at Emirates Transport (ET), a Government transport company that oversees school buses and other fleets.

"We were trying to tap into the technical institute graduates. Then again, we got an applicant today whose degree is in gems and precious metals.

"It is excellent to have this skill available to Emiratis but how we can find a place for that in a transport company is challenging."

There were many recent graduates in the crowd, including Marwa Mahmoud, 23, who finished her Bachelor's in civil engineering six weeks ago.

Ms Mahmoud said she was biding her time, waiting for the best possible offer.

"I'm leaning more towards the public sector," she said. "I find that the pay is better and there are better opportunities and better facilities."

Hussain Sajwani also recently finished his civil-engineering degree and said he felt at a crossroads and wanted to make sure he picked the right path.

"I'm taking my time trying to find the best opportunity to develop my skills and learn new ones," Mr Sajwani said. "I'm looking for somewhere I can gain a lot of experience and training.

"In five years' time I want to be in a leadership position where I can pass down some of my experiences and knowledge to the next generation."

Others, like Khalfan Al Neaimi, 20, are not willing to wait for graduation to begin the search. The third-year business and economics student said he had been looking for work for three years.

"I want to secure a position now, why should I wait until I have a degree?" asked the Emirates University student, who believed getting a head start might help him to cut through red tape later.

"I believe I can work and go to school. I go to Tawteen and they say there are no jobs available, and when find a job they tell me I have to go through Tawteen.

"There are so many obstacles and bureaucracies that you have to overcome just to start working."

The results of a survey into graduates' job expectations were released by the online recruitment firm Gulf Talent yesterday.

The survey, conducted in 10 local universities, found 86 per cent of Emirati male graduates and 66 per cent of females prefer to work in the government sector after graduation.

Male graduates said they expected to receive at least Dh27,000 a month at their first job, while female graduates were looking at Dh19,000.

Fahima Khoury, 24, already has her accounting degree from Zayed University and said she had been looking for jobs in her emirate for a year.

"I'm tired of being asked to settle for a high school graduate's position," said Ms Khoury, from Umm Al Quwain. "Why did I spend four years in college then?

"I want to work to get experience. I've done volunteer work and I'm bored at home. I have received high offers from other emirates but I want to be near my children.

"If I don't find anything else, I'll take a job I was offered in Abu Dhabi with a very good salary."

Despite yesterday's overwhelming turnout, Ms Saqer said she was disinclined to believe talk that there were "no jobs out there".

"There is so much opportunity for Emiratis in this country," she said. "But it is important for the people to be willing to accept the positions they come across."

It wasn't only the unemployed applying. Maitha Ali Bu Asaiba, 37, has been working at a telecommunications company for the past 12 years.

"I got my bachelor's degree in IT five years ago from Dubai University," Ms Bu Asaiba said. "I'm a senior customer service manager and I feel like it's a very stressful job with no room for advancement, so I've been looking for another job for the past four years."

She said she had been considered for some very good positions - including one in the UAE military and another in the police - but lost them because she could not supply a letter of recommendation.

"I've only ever worked for [the telecoms], so how can I go to them and ask them to give me a recommendation for another organisation?"