x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Jobs website hits the mark

A job website that caters to recent college graduates will be officially launched later this month.

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Sept 8: Iba Masood co-founder of ÔGradberry´ recruitment portal for students and graduates at American University of Sharjah in Sharjah. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Amna
SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Sept 8: Iba Masood co-founder of ÔGradberry´ recruitment portal for students and graduates at American University of Sharjah in Sharjah. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Amna

DUBAI // Disha Laungani applied for several positions on popular career websites with no luck, even though she had earned a college degree and an MBA.

But after three months of searching, she submitted an application to Gradberry, a new website for recent graduates, and immediately got a job interview.

"There are numerous websites for jobs, but they do not directly cater to the needs of fresh graduates with entry-level positions," said Ms Laungani, 22, from India.

"There is a gap in the market because there is not any website that existed for students and graduates until Gradberry. It is a great service because it is a niche market they are concentrating on ... fresh graduates have no full-time experience and they need guidance."

Gradberry, which officially launches at the end of September, was founded by recent graduates from the American University of Sharjah: Iba Masood, 21, and a 22-year-old engineering graduate who wished to remain anonymous.

Ms Masood said that popular recruitment websites usually ask for people who have work experience, but overlook those without it.

"We know what the graduates are looking for and how frustrating it is when you are trying to search for a job," Ms Masood said. "We saw that current employment portals ask for those with 3 to 5 years of work experience, but where are the jobs that require 0 to 2 [years of] work experience? Very few."

Ms Masood had a full-time job in the media for eight months, but quit last month to develop the Gradberry brand. She said Gradberry will aim to connect employers with students and recent graduates. Employers pay a fee to post jobs, but job seekers can use the site for free.

The website has more than 1,400 students and graduates registered. It also has Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as a presence on the networking website LinkedIn.

"Employers are looking for fresh graduates, but they do not know where to look, and it is the same with the students as well, and that is when I decided to bring them together through Gradberry," Ms Masood said.

So far, Gradberry has had successful meetings with multinational companies to post jobs for interns and fresh graduates, Ms Masood said.

A study conducted in the latter months of last year by Booz & Company, a management consultancy, found that the Middle East has the highest unemployment rates for people between 15 and 24, with one out of four young people in that category jobless.

In the UAE, a labour survey revealed that the unemployment rate in the age group 15 to 19 reached 36.1 per cent in 2005. Among those ages 20 to 24, the rate was 11.3 per cent in 2009.

A job website catering to students and fresh graduates is a step forward, according to an expert.

"It is a commendable initiative by these graduates, but we need to be realistic," said Karim Sabbagh, a senior partner with Booz & Co in the Middle East and chairman of the Ideation Center, a think tank. "This is not going to be a panacea that will address the challenges in the market when it comes to youth unemployment because it is only one of the many initiatives needed."

Mr Sabbagh added that one of the priorities to tackling unemployment is disseminating information on the labour market, job openings, and skills needed for each job.

Sara Kazilbash, who graduated in June with a degree in mass communication from the American University of Sharjah, won a recent job interview through Gradberry.

The 21-year-old from Pakistan said: "The creators really do understand how hard it is to obtain a job, especially if you're a recent graduate in these hard economic times."

Ms Masood said:"Graduates are like seeds, and you need to nurture and water them to make them grow. In a way, Gradberry is planting careers; it is the first step in the career ladder."




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