82% of fresh Saudi graduates plan to open their own businesses

A recent survey revealed that fresh graduates face a challenge when looking for a job

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More and more Saudi graduates are opting to start their own businesses as they find it difficult to get a job of their choice, according to the findings of a survey.

The Bayt.com’s Fresh Graduates in the Middle East and North Africa survey, recently conducted by Bayt.com, the region’s number one job site, and leading market research agency, YouGov, has revealed that despite the majority of respondents in the Kingdom stating that finding a job is a challenge faced by their generation of fresh graduates, 82 percent are considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Six in 10 graduates completed their most recent qualification in the Kingdom, with 26 percent having studied engineering as well as Information Technology/computer science as part of their highest degree. Some 67 percent were satisfied with the quality of higher education they received, considering the preparation it gave them for the workplace to be mostly ‘good’ (28 percent). Teaching methods, quality of infrastructure, technology usage for effective teaching, value for money paid, curriculum and qualification of teachers are also considered to be ‘good’ by Saudi graduates.

The majority (53 percent) do not feel that they would have fared better in the job market if they had chosen a different major or different school, with 66 percent stating that they considered the job availability in the field they chose to major in prior to enrolment. The majority of working respondents (67 percent) are currently employed in their field of study.

According to Saudi graduates, the most appealing industries from a career point of view are banking and finance (24 percent), business consultancy, business management or management consulting (28 percent), and IT (21 percent). A fifth of respondents (22 percent) state that their education prepared them to target the industry of their choice only to ‘some extent’.

For three in 10 respondents, the most important attribute when selecting a job is experience in the field they want to work in, followed by a high salary.

When seeking their first job, 83 percent of graduates used or plan to use leading online job sites. Direct applications to target companies and finding a job through their network of family and friends are also highly used.

Most graduates (67 percent) feel that the biggest challenge they face in finding a job is that employers are looking for candidates with previous experience, though knowing where to find relevant jobs is also considered to be a challenge by 43 percent.

Salary expectations for fresh graduates are high: 18 percent expect to receive between $2,001-3,000, while 20 percent anticipate $1,501-2,000.

According to 76 percent of respondents, their college or university did not help them to identify job opportunities.

For those whose colleges assisted them, career fairs (48 percent) and assistance in writing a CV and cover letter (44 percent) helped them.

Almost six in 10 (57 percent) respondents acquired work experience either before or during their time at university, with 48 percent having spent 1-6 months in a work placement.

Some 71 percent of graduates are planning to pursue higher education, with the U.S. being the most popular destination to do so outside of their country of residence. Graduates are also keen to travel abroad for employment purposes, with 55 percent stating they will consider relocating for a job. They would prefer to move to the UAE (55 percent), Qatar (35 percent), or the U.S. (30 percent).

When asked what challenges their generation face the most, 78 percent stated that finding a job is a challenge. This is followed by being able to financially afford a basic lifestyle (30 percent) and saving money (43 percent). 60 percent claim there is a low availability of jobs for fresh graduates. However, 25 percent claim to be very optimistic that their generation has better career and educational opportunities in comparison to their parents’ generation.

Some 62 percent of graduates consider computer skills to be among the most important skills required to excel in the workplace, followed by academic and technical skills (44 percent) and linguistic skills (41 percent). They consider their skills in negotiation, problem-solving and analytical thinking, academic and technical skills to be ‘good’; they consider themselves to be ‘very good’ in leadership, linguistics, communications, computers, interpersonal and team playing skills, and flexibility.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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