Majority of UAE students plan career goals during high school

25 September 2023 3 min. read

Around 90% of students in the UAE are already considering their career goals during their high school period, with 72% feeling they develop a clear idea of what job they see themselves doing in the future.

A recent report from Big Four professional services firm KPMG shows that many high school students in the UAE are already focused on their career goals. Around 40% of students aged 15 to 18 said they planned to go on to study business or healthcare at university.

The report, called ‘Mind the Gap’, surveyed over 800 high school students of 78 nationalities in the UAE. The students emphasized the importance of skills like communication, critical thinking, creativity, social skills, and leadership for future job success.

Majority of UAE students plan career goals during high school

Most of the students responded that they did not feel any pressure to pursue any particular career path. Despite that, nearly half of the students said that they started thinking about their career goals already between ages 13 and 15, with 40% having attended some type of career development training or professional course by the time they were in high school.

“As the leaders of tomorrow, the skills, experience, and aspirations instilled in our school students are crucial in realizing a future built on innovation. Education is key to ready students for the future workplace and judging from the confidence displayed by female high school students, we are well positioned to attain gender balance,” said Emilio Pera, chief executive and senior partner at KPMG in the Lower Gulf.

“Employers will however have to focus on a hybrid work set-up to attract the best talent,” Pera added.

Majority of UAE students plan career goals during high school

Looking into their first career steps, the majority of respondents (61%) said they were interested in a hybrid work set-up while 6% reported they hoped to work entirely from home. The changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the work-life balance of professionals across the world, with hybrid work exploding in popularity.

The most popular subject among the students surveyed was science, potentially a hopeful sign hinting at future growth of fields that will be of huge importance in the UAE’s push towards diversifying their economy away from oil. Students expressed interest in emerging technology fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, metaverse, and automation.

Around 14% of male students said they planned to go into IT and business was overall the most popular aspiration, with 21% of students expressing the desire to enter that career path.

“The volatile market conditions and changing nature of work have brought upskilling to the forefront. Equipping younger generations with essential skills and aligning their career pathways with the job market is more important than ever to reach equilibrium,” said Gunjan Shroff, partner at KPMG in the Lower Gulf.