The key findings of the research can be broadly grouped into primary themes:

  • youth are more confident about the future
  • universities must be agile in the coming years
  • young people believe in themselves
  • student demand for career counselling is growing
  • women are more likely to wait for their dream job
  • more work is needed to encourage and incentivise careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

STEM, entrepreneurship popular career pathways

With the UAE set for more space missions in the coming years, STEM-related careers across science, engineering, technology, robotics and artificial intelligence are popular pathways, with 21 percent interested in these fields. However, students are increasingly passion-driven with entrepreneurship a popular choice for one in 10 youths. Passion and drive to achieve success were found to be the motivating factors for youth to work after completion of their studies.

Youth are confident about the future

Nearly eight in 10 surveyed young people are excited about what the future holds, with 88 per cent of them believing “the best is yet to come.” With youth in a jubilant mood, it is recommended that universities and employees hold discussions to identify innovative ways to tap into this enthusiasm and hope.

Youth are hopeful, however there is a gap between employers’ and educators’ preferred curriculum

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of students are confident that their soft and hard skills will help them compete globally for employment – however, only 56 percent have a clear plan of what they are going to do when they graduate Interestingly, UAE national youth have higher levels of optimism and positivity, as well as a greater sense of ambition and achievement than expatriate youth. It is recommended that universities add more digital literacy courses and focus on building resilience amongst students, especially in light of the challenges caused by Covid-19.

Students demand more career guidance from educators

An overwhelming majority (72 percent) of students would like to receive better jobs advice from career guidance counsellors, professors, faculty, alumni or mentors. Universities that provide better career guidance may be more likely to stay ahead, and it is recommended that they generate more forums to enhance the awareness of parents in career counselling.

Women are more likely to wait for their dream job

Women are more passion-driven towards their work and 85 percent of them believe that their opinions matter. They’re also more willing to wait for their dream job with many keen to pursue careers in human resources, education, social and life sciences. However, more may be done to empower young women. Incentivising women to participate in business cases and entrepreneurship initiatives is one recommendation.

Universities must be agile

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has caused parents and students to question the value of traditional education, according to a separate global study. With this in mind universities may do well to establish a professional development link between employers and students with agile learning methodologies to seek new ways to attract and retain talent.