New and soon-to-be graduates whose career plans were knocked off course due to the Covid-19 outbreak hope to kick-start their job search prospects as global restrictions ease.
The health pandemic disrupted the future plans of many jobseekers worldwide in March as recruitment was brought to a near halt across many sectors.
An estimated 6.7 per cent of working hours were lost globally in the second quarter of this year – the equivalent of 195 million jobs worldwide – according to the United Nations.
As employers furloughed staff, cut salaries and axed jobs, students transitioning from university into the working world bore the brunt of the effect.
Travel suspensions and social distancing guidelines interrupted how graduates were preparing to leave university for good.
In some cases, job and internship offers were postponed, altered or withdrawn by companies due to visa or travel restrictions.
But as measures continue to be lifted around the globe, recruiters in the UAE said there has been a slight uptake in hiring since early June.
Many of my friends either had their internships and graduate schemes scrapped or received pay deductions of up to 40 per cent
“New employment visas are currently being issued to candidates residing within the UAE who are either on an extended visit, cancelled or family sponsored visa,” said Mayank Patel, country manager at Adecco, a recruitment agency.
“We are not currently processing visas for candidates outside the UAE.
“We had shortlisted a pool of talented millennials from across well-known universities in the UAE for our CEO1Month internship programme.
“Due to covid restrictions, some of the candidates were in their home countries and unfortunately we had to postpone their applications.”
Mr Patel said the pandemic has definitely affected how fresh graduates are making career decisions. But it has created opportunities too.
Many graduates have considered choosing “alternative career paths” to combat current market demands, while the rest looked to adapt and re-skill, with a focus on digital.
“There has been a slight increase in demand for apprenticeship programmes by leading organisations in the UAE too,” he said.
“Covid-19 has led to employers seeking a more flexible workforce, including freelance and short-term staffing solutions, which is a perfect fit for fresh graduate students seeking corporate experience.”
A recent survey of more than 4,000 university students and recent graduates in the UK found that 30 per cent had either lost their job or had an offer cancelled or deferred.
The survey by Prospects, an online careers platform for graduates, also found that 60 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 24 expressed a “negative sentiment” towards career prospects because of the pandemic.
Joseph Zakher, a computer science major at Lebanese American University in Lebanon, is hoping to find work in the UAE when he graduates later this year.
“The situation in Lebanon is really bad and unemployment is high with less jobs and more competition,” the 21-year-old said.
“I will graduate in December but my internship and job search started earlier this year and it has been really tough.
“I want to work in Dubai or Canada, so I just hope I can make that happen in the current climate.
“I have an interview with a company in Dubai in a few months but it has to be done virtually and it keeps being delayed because of the pandemic.”
For now, he said has been “lucky” to secure an online internship as many of his classmates were unable to get placements.
Recent graduate Khalid Abdelkareem, 22, was able to kick start his job hunt early.
“I studied electrical and electronic engineering and started my job search in October, it was one of the best decisions I made,” the Abu Dhabi resident said.
“I accepted an offer with a well-known company in the UAE just before the covid outbreak began to disrupt job offers and internships.
“Many of my friends either had their internships and graduate schemes scrapped or received pay deductions of up to 40 per cent.
“The only setback I received was a delayed start from August to September but I do fear that my salary will be cut when I start as pay deductions have occurred at the firm I’m working at.”
In the UAE, hiring on LinkedIn, which has about four million users, fell by 60 per cent at the end of April compared to the previous year.
Those working in the travel, retail and media were among the hardest hit, however the networking platform noted a pattern of slow recovery by June.
In terms of the most resilient sectors, job listings for software and IT services was on top followed by healthcare positions.
On Monday, more than 17,000 students and graduates from across the Mena region engaged in a three-day virtual career fair hosted by Localized, a social enterprise that connects job-seeking students with employers.
Employers from 58 participating companies interacted with attendees virtually including UAE-based recruiters from Amazon, Ernst and Young and Etisalat.
More than 600 university students and alumni from the UAE logged in to the event from campuses across the Emirates and were able to access hundreds of job listings catered towards new and soon-to-be graduates.
Ahmed El Tatawy, director of Mena partnerships and growth, said all participating employers were recruiting at the fair.
“There are 175 job positions are visible on the platform, but we have been told repeatedly from employers that many of them are not posting all jobs; they are going to also search talent to find candidates as part of the pipeline.”
Updated: July 1, 2020 08:31 AM