Are the new graduates facing recruitment crisis?
There is no doubt that there is a big issue when it comes to Qatari graduates finding employment in Qatar. Despite the fact that business is growing at dramatic rates, there is a disconnect between those graduating and the companies that should be employing them.
In a country with such good growth; with the whole impetus that has been felt from both QNV 2030 and the World Cup 2022, it should be a perfect time for graduates and companies alike to reap the rewards. There have never been more companies, more development, more urban planning project, than the current development in Qatar. Yet, out of more than 3000 recent graduates from Qatar University and other universities, a huge portion of these graduates are still trying to find a “real” job.
So what has gone wrong, can it be put right, and if the answer to that is “yes”, then what needs to be done to set it in motion?
Simply producing more and more graduates is not the answer, if there is nowhere for these students to go, or even if these graduates need to stay at home for years until they are called for a job interview.
Think of the university/graduate/employment issue as a large funnel.
Students are poured into the open funnel, coming out the other end as fresh graduates looking forward to a fulfilling job in an industry relevant to their degree.
A bottle neck at the far end, is not solved by simply forcing more and more students into the funnel. To follow on the analogy, the answer is to widen the funnel, or create more funnels. The question is how to go about doing this?
There are three areas that need to be addressed, and it is crucial that all three are tackled for the initiative to work.
The obvious question is “Are the right kind of graduates being produced in alignment with the market needs?” The country’s business definitely requires fresh graduates, but if the ones are offered to them are of irrelevant skills to the market needs, then they are going to cover their needs elsewhere.
We need to make sure that the outcomes of the university are aligned with the market needs. The market is changing, if the university is not keeping pace with that change they will simply be churning out the wrong type of graduates. It isn’t all about the courses though.
The modern graduate needs to be equipped mentally to enter the workplace. They need to be able to quickly take on new skills, learn new techniques, become a valuable part of the workforce, and become a positive influence.
The university should not just be an assembly line producing clones. They need to produce individuals, capable of thinking for themselves. They need to produce leaders, not just followers.
Companies and organisations need to adapt to the changing business landscape not just in Qatar itself, but in the world in general.
Every business, every company operates on a global scale, by not realising and adapting to this fact, they will be in danger of being left behind. By embracing it however, you are putting yourself in the position where you can compete, grow and expand which will create new openings and opportunities for graduates to come in.
Growth, as laid out in the 2030 vision, needs to be sustainable. That means it isn’t just a case of growing now with no concept of the future. Businesses need to build strong foundations, and employ the right people, in all areas of the organisation. People that will be able to grow and develop with the business. Fresh graduates are perfect for this role.
Businesses need to see graduates as an opportunity to bring in new ideas and impetus – as a tangible benefit, not just a duty to employ locals or fulfil a quota. They also need to get a balance between foreign workers and locals with a structured knowledge transfer system. These should complement each other. In order for this to happen, there has to be an environment and culture where this is encouraged.
Too many times, the default setting for recruitment is to go for the cheaper high school student, or the experienced, head hunted professional. By re-evaluating the business’ needs both now and of the future, there will more than likely be the case where that role can be filled by a graduate.
3. Attitudes of employees
There is an attitude – mainly but not exclusively from senior expat employees — where they are so desperate to keep their jobs. So, they do not pass on their knowledge to new graduates or employees. Fear of being undermined, overtaken, or of losing their jobs altogether, many which have been held for 20-plus years in the same organization and some are even in the same position, are creating a blockage in many businesses. This prevents people moving within an organisation, and hence new jobs and positions being created which can then be filled by graduates.
All three of these need to change in order for the problem to be resolved. None can work in isolation, and communication is the overriding key to making this work. Businesses need to tell universities what skills and majors they require.
Students need to be taught not just academically, but life and leadership skills. Employees need to be made to understand that a successful, thriving business is good for everyone, them included. Then and only then will the fresh graduate problem be solved.
Our current fresh graduates are the real forces in 2022 and 2030.