The UAE, which beckons millennials with the phrase – “If you want to build the future, come and build it in the Emirates” – is again on the top of the chart as a sought-after career destination for the world’s young.
A World Economic Forum survey underscores this. Its finding is that the UAE and China are the most preferred emerging-market countries among young people who would like to live abroad to advance their careers.
It is for the second year in a row that both rank as the most preferred emerging-market countries – in 11th and 12th place respectively – ahead of the Scandinavian countries, Brics countries and Singapore. The US, UK and Canada led the list.
The survey, organised by the Global Shapers team of the World Economic Forum, asked some 20,000 millennials aged 18 to 35 about a range of issues concerning business, the economy, politics, technology and values. Respondents from 187 countries and territories took part in the survey, with most coming from China, the United States and India.
“The UAE’s appeal lies in the enviable fact that the country is increasingly synonymous with an attitude that nothing is impossible,” said Adeyemi Babington-Ashaye, head of the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum. “The UAE combines excellent opportunities for young people and start-ups with a competitive economy.”
One reason for the UAE’s strong performance may be the good prospects to land a job. While 34 per cent of millennials globally identified the lack of economic opportunity and employment as one of the three most serious issues affecting their country – making it the biggest issue of concern after corruption – only one in 10 of UAE respondents said they see unemployment as a serious issue.
Another reason that explains the success of the UAE may be that, globally, more millennials value salary (54 per cent) and career advancement (46 per cent) – criteria for which the UAE job market is well-regarded – over a sense of purpose and impact on society (37 per cent) in their job. A sense of purpose prevails as the top priority among “Western” millennials from the United States, the UK, Germany and France. But, in the largest emerging economies, including China and India, salary and career advancement remain the most important job criteria. The same is true in the UAE.
As a whole, the Middle East and North Africa respondents were among the most optimistic about the future impact of technology on jobs. Ninety per cent of Mena respondents said technology is more likely to create than destroy jobs. Only in China (96 per cent) and the wider East Asia and Pacific regions (93 per cent) do more millennials believe that technology will create jobs in the future.
Young people in the Mena region said they see the presence of a start-up eco-system and entrepreneurship (50 per cent) as “most important” for youth empowerment. A fair and just system (36 per cent) came in second; and free media (33 per cent) third.
On the flip side, young people in Mena are the least enthusiastic among youth globally about a career in the public sector. Twice as many respondents said they see a job in public service to be very unattractive (25 per cent). The only region with comparable results was sub-Saharan Africa. In East Asia (mostly China), a majority of respondents said they see the service sector as attractive (56 per cent). In South Asia (including India), the figure was 50 per cent.