The buzz in the job market was felt at the just-concluded premier career show for national graduates, with financial institutions offering hundreds of positions in anticipation of a projected rise in demand for financial services on the back of an increasing number of mega projects in the country and the region.

Several of the 46 commercial banks and nine representative offices were present at the National Career Show, offering jobs in their main offices and branches in the country, besides planning to recruit for their impending expansions and training programmes. There are nearly 850 bank branches in the UAE, according to the 2010 figures available on the UAE Central Bank’s website.

The 15th National Career Exhibition, held under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, was held at Expo Centre Sharjah from February 20 to 22, 2013, attracting nearly 7,000 Emirati job-seekers during its three-day run.

“The banking and financial sector fully supported the show, given the renewed push to prepare and attract qualified Emirati graduates to the local workforce. A slew of measures introduced by the government to make the private sector for more attractive to the Emirati youth have also started bearing fruit,” said Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General, Expo Centre Sharjah.

Apart from banks, money exchanges, free zones, insurance companies, financial consultants, government organizations, the UAE Air Force, Air Defence and Navy too took part in the show, offering hundreds of positions to national youth. With several local companies now having branches across the region, there were positions available for those willing to relocate.

“This being the ‘year of Emiratisation’, providing employment to citizens has been given top priority. Expo Centre Sharjah, as the organizer of the show, and the participating establishments strived hard to lay stress on the core objective of offering jobs to Emirati youth. The support and patronage given to the National Career Exhibition by His Highness Sheikh Sultan from its very beginning also shows the importance Sharjah gives to building the national human capital,” added Mr. Midfa.

“All the participants at the show had a clear idea of their priorities, and Emiratisation was top among them. A commendable part was that most of them were also willing to train prospective candidates,” said Mr. Midfa.

Though a majority of jobseekers still preferred the government sector, there were several graduates who were keen to join private institutions, citing opportunities to gain international exposure and better career growth, while some said they might switch to the public sector once they gained enough work experience in the private sector.

Enquiries mainly centered on salaries, work hours, holidays, proximity to one’s residence, reputation of firms and other benefits and incentives. “This was mostly the case with private firms, which have different sets of rules and regulations governing pay and perks. However, in the public sector, the benefits are more or less known to one and all,” said a representative from a money exchange taking part in the show.

Exhibitors also pointed out that compared to the previous show, there was more interest in private firms, given that the government is planning to adopt several measures, including adjusting working hours and days of the private sector to make them more appealing to Emiratis. If the salary and benefits are more or less the same, the private sector will be able to attract a larger number of national youth, they said.

Apart from career opportunities, national graduates were also able to explore higher education prospects at over 100 leading institutions at the concurrent International Education Show, with both the National Career Exhibition and the International Education Show being together for the first time.