A regional survey that polled young Kuwaiti graduates on their career preferences found an overwhelming majority selected high paying jobs as their main objective when choosing a career. The survey, conducted by international employment research company Universum over a period of six months, was part of the firm’s Middle East Talent Survey 2016. The six-nation survey conducted across Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, aimed to gauge the attitudes of university students about employers and what prompted their decision-making when it came to career choices.
The Kuwait survey gathered responses from 709 male and female students in five universities throughout the country. The majority of respondents were studying in fields related to banking/commerce, followed by engineering/IT and humanities/liberal arts/education/law.
When asked what they looked for in their future employers, the majority of respondents across genders and degree subjects said they sought high future earnings, with the average expected monthly salary for the students being KD1,012. High salary was followed by on-the-job training and a company that respects its staff.
The survey findings offer employers a key insight into the priorities of Kuwait-based students. The overwhelming choice of students for high future earnings over other factors including on-the-job training, opportunities to travel, and a creative work environment, firms offering leadership opportunities, should be a reminder to firms that while an innovative working environment, and the chance to travel overseas, might be popular among graduates, they risk losing out on top talents who are likely to opt for more competitive salaries.
When comparing priorities between genders, the survey showed that while women rated opportunities for overseas travel and the need for a creative work environment high on their list of priorities, men listed ‘respect for its people’ and ‘prestige’ as their other key preferences. The desire for performance recognition was another leading preference among business/commerce and engineering/IT students.
In terms of respondents’ personal career goals, the desire for work/life balance was a leading ambition among business/commerce students. The objective to be creative and entrepreneurial jumped four places from Universum’s 2015 survey to rank second, making it a more desirable goal than job security and leadership opportunities.
When asked to name their favored career industries, more than half of business/commerce students chose the banking sector, followed by professional services. When naming their ideal employer, the majority of respondents studying these subjects chose Kuwait Oil Company. Google, Kuwait Investment Authority and National Bank of Kuwait were also highly sought after companies to work for, the survey found.
Turning to engineering/IT students, the ambition to be creative and entrepreneurial was the most commonly mentioned personal career goal, jumping four places from the 2015 survey. The majority of engineering/IT students chose the energy sector as the industry they would ideally work in after graduating. Engineering and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, and software and computer services were also popular choices.
Kuwait Oil Company was the top choice among engineering/IT students with close to half of respondents selecting the energy giant. Google, Apple, Q8 and Microsoft made up the top five.
“The survey reveals that employers face a daunting task if they are to attract the best graduates away from Kuwait Oil Company. However, the survey also revealed that more and more Kuwaiti students are seeking the chance to be creative and innovative in their careers, which is something that smaller companies can offer.