60 percent believe finding first job challenging 60 percent believe finding first job challenging

KUWAIT: At around 23 percent, the soaring rates of youth unemployment across the Middle East and North Africa region, are almost twice the global average of 13 percent. These figures have led to discontent among fresh graduates in Kuwait, who claim - according to the Bayt.com 'Fresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa Survey' - that the greatest challenge standing between them and a successful career is the fact that candidates with work experience are preferred (42 percent).

According to the recently-released survey by Bayt.com, the Middle East's leading jobsite, and YouGov, an international research organization, the majority of fresh graduates in Kuwait claimed it was challenging or will be challenging to secure their first job, with 31 percent of them rating it 'very difficult'. In addition to employers preferring candidates with work experience, respondents cited lack of understanding regarding how to effectively search for jobs (32 percent) and lack of knowledge as to where to find relevant jobs (30 percent) as the main challenges they face when trying to secure their first job.

Important attributes

When asked to rank the most important attributes for them when selecting a job, 'doing a job I feel passionate about' emerged as the most important attribute for fresh graduates (46 percent) in Kuwait. This was followed by 'competitive salaries' (12 percent), and working for a 'well-known organization' (12 percent).

While finding a job may be challenging, fresh graduates in Kuwait are not giving in. Despite what many perceive as a 'negative outlook', the largest proportion (48 percent) claim they will keep looking until they find a job in their industry of choice. Nevertheless, results also point to a pragmatic youth, with more than one in every four (28 percent) Kuwaiti fresh graduates surveyed claiming they will start looking for a job in another industry, and a further 5 percent claiming they will look for any job no matter the industry.

Unfortunately, the majority (76 percent) of fresh graduates surveyed in Kuwait feel they would have fared better in the job market had they selected either a different major (38 percent), the same major from a different school (11 percent), or both a different major and a different school (27 percent). While one in every ten (12 percent) fresh graduates in Kuwait were unaware of what salary they should expect for their first job, 38 percent received or expected to receive less than $750 per month. As may have been expected, results reveal very different salary expectations across the region, with 53 percent of fresh graduates in Egypt, for example, expecting a monthly salary of $500 or less, while 46 percent of fresh graduates in Saudi Arabia saying they would expect a first salary between $1,000 and $3,000 per month.

As for the perceived barriers to getting their first job, those surveyed in Kuwait believe the primary barriers for hiring fresh graduates in many industries are their 'lack of experience' and 'lack of necessary skills' (44 percent and 31 percent, respectively). However, for the industries which do hire fresh graduates, their lower salary expectations (48 percent), compliance and willingness to follow instructions (40 percent) emerged as the key motivations for hiring fresh graduates

Finding and creating jobs

"In today's economic climate, it is important for both prospective employees and employers to be aware of the solutions to finding and creating jobs. When it comes to securing their first job, it would be pertinent for those still in university and fresh graduates to take advantage of internships to gain at least some experience before entering the workforce," said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com. "According to the survey, online job sites were a popular tool for fresh graduates looking to find their first job. Since its launch, Bayt.com has always strived to provide a realistic overview of the opportunities available within the wide variety of industries across the MENA region. Our website offers numerous entry-level jobs and internships, as well as information about the job market, with an aim to empower the youth and ensure that they are making sound decisions when it comes to their future career paths. We also recommend that fresh graduates bolster their CVs with tests, courses, and conversations that could also take place on Bayt.com, in order to illustrate a better picture to employers."

"The results suggest that while fresh graduates across the region expect it to be challenging to find a job, many are resilient and unwilling to compromise on their dreams and ambitions. Indeed, the largest proportion of fresh graduates surveyed claimed they would keep looking until their found a job in their industry of choice and a 'job they feel passionate about'. Unfortunately, aside from the necessary work experience many graduates also lack an understanding of how or where to look for jobs", commented Joao Neves, Senior Research Director at YouGov. "Ultimately, results suggest much benefit could be gained by having employers collaborate closely with educational institutions not only to provide internships to students but also to educate them on effective job searching techniques."

Research was done with 4,247 fresh graduates, who had completed their most recent qualification in the last three years, and was conducted between May 8 and May 22, 2016, from the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. All responses were collected online.