The Ministry of Education has revealed the results of its “Majors in Demand” Study for 2018, which complements its efforts to provide academic support and counselling for students preparing to pursue their higher education in the UAE.
The study canvassed a balanced sample of more than 13,000 students graduating from government and private higher education institutions in 2017, covering over 80% of institutes across all seven emirates.
Publishing the survey coincides with the registration period for universities in the UAE, which serves to raise awareness among soon-to-be university students about the requirements of the labor market and the available opportunities for graduates of each discipline. This, in turn, increases their chances of finding suitable employment in the future, steering them towards developing the right set of skills they would require.
The study was based on a clear methodology that sought to reflect an accurate and realistic image of which specializations and majors graduates chose to pursue, while highlighting employment prospects and speed of employment associated with each discipline. The survey focused on a set of specializations, namely: engineering, business administration, arts and humanities, education, information technology, environmental and health sciences, medical sciences, law, science, and agriculture, in addition to majors associated with each of them.
Dr Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, said: “The study is an ideal forecasting tool for students to outline their academic careers through studying at public and private higher education institutions around the UAE,” he explained. “This, in turn, feeds into our general strategic directions, which seek to synchronise the higher education outcome with labor market demands. We will be discussing the results of our study with the Higher Education and Private Sector Council, as well as various academic institutions, in order to broaden our constant collaboration and coordination, identify labor market requirements, and develop specialisations and programmes accordingly to help students secure suitable employment opportunities in the future.”
Engineering and Business Administration Top List of Most In-Demand
Engineering specializations came out on top in terms of employment opportunities, followed by business administration, medical sciences, and information technology, as measured by the number of those who secured employment compared to the number of overall graduates. In terms of majors within engineering, civil engineering led the way as the most in-demand, followed by mechanical engineering, then petroleum engineering. Furthermore, emerging specialisations with high demand in the labor market were highlighted as well, most notable of which (in terms of employment) were mechatronics and industrial engineering.
As for business majors, marketing ranked first in terms of employment opportunities, followed by finance, accounting and quality management, while retail and tourism came in last. In medical majors, which were third in the ranking, demand was high for medicine and surgery, and low for general dentistry. Within information technology, which came in fourth place in terms of employment opportunities, information security led the way, followed by networking and information systems. In fifth place were education majors, with high demand for early childhood and special education.
The study underlined the importance of opting for specialised technical majors rather than general ones, with the former becoming much more in-demand. Accounting and finance, for example, were more in-demand than general business administration, and the same applies for education majors, where early childhood and special education performed better than general education and teaching.
On the same note, the study revealed an increased demand for specialised law majors, such as commercial law and international law. The Ministry of Education is currently working with higher education institutions to provide such majors that are compatible with labor market demands, ensuring that they will be taught in both English and Arabic, as opposed to current programmes where Arabic is often the sole language of instruction. This shift seeks to meet the UAE’s needs as it has evolved into a major international market, attracting investment and leading companies from around the world.
Education Specializations, the Fastest to Find Employment
The study revealed that education majors were the fastest to find employment, followed by business administration, information technology, then engineering. Environmental and health science majors lagged behind.
In education, science teaching was the fastest to find employment, followed by early childhood education, then English language teaching. Meanwhile, accounting ranked fastest to employ among business administration majors, followed by international business management, then banking and finance, with tourism and healthcare management coming in last.
Similarly, in information technology, information systems was the quickest major to find employment, followed by networking, then information security. As for engineering, computer engineering ranked first, followed by chemical and architectural engineering.