A career in banking and financial services is among the glamorous and lucrative career for many young people these days. As the UAE government diversifies in the non-oil sector and encourages the process of Emiratisation, more employment opportunities will opening up in the financial industry in the coming years.
The national economy of the Emirates has grown exponentially over the past few years and despite low oil prices putting pressure on public spending, the UAE government has been pro-active, directing the economy to grow on a more resilient and balanced path.
The best efforts of the government notwithstanding, falling oil prices, softening real estate market and dampened global sentiments have affected some sectors. Hiring within the country is slowing down in some of the sectors with private enterprises taking a ‘conservative approach’ to hiring. Unfortunately, banking and financial services was among the slowest in terms of hiring, which grew at a modest 3 per cent. Also, at least three UAE banks announced recently that they had slashed jobs, totaling 350.
The great news is that recruitment agencies and experts are reporting that the present slowdown in employment opportunities is likely to be temporary. Banking and financial services are cyclical sectors—when the cycle turns, it will provide plenty of opportunities that candidates should be prepared for. Also, with its reserves, the country is in a strong position to weather the fall in oil prices. Dubai is being developed as the hub of Islamic economy, and finance and banking is definitely going to be a major beneficiary of that. Ongoing infrastructure development plans and projects remain unaffected. The UAE economy, which is growing at a rate of 3 per cent according to a recent International Monetary Fund report, is the second-largest in the Middle East.
In such circumstances, there is little reason for gloom. The banking sector remains a key player in a diversified economy, with financial services contributing to about 12% of GDP. The government, along with UAE Banks Federation and international financial centers such as Dubai International Financial Centre and the Abu Dhabi Global Market, complementing each other, are working on a long-term plan to turn UAE into a reputable global financial centre
Together with the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS), a number of organizations are working to address the gaps in financial and banking literacy and skills among local students. Simultaneously, the government and banking industry are keen to promote Emiratisation. Involvement of UAE nationals in financial services – be it banking, insurance, asset management or wealth management is an important mission for the state.
Choose with care
Therefore, young students, who are tuned in to the long-term goals of the government and demands of the market, can prepare for a career in this sector by choosing the right kind of courses. They need to plan ahead and keep themselves informed about the various courses that are appropriate for their skill sets.
For instance, EIBFS offers diploma courses in Islamic Banking. Since Dubai is evolving as the centre of Islamic economy and finance, specialized knowledge of Islamic banking will be much in demand. Courses in Islamic banking acquaint students with aspects of Islamic principles of finance that are most relevant while dealing with the complex financial world of today.
Islamic banking or leadership development courses in banking and finance are also appropriate for those in their mid-career. In case someone has suffered the misfortune of a job cut, it may not be a bad idea to do some advanced courses in either of these banking and finance courses. The need for niches is all the more important in the rapidly evolving economic landscape.
Such courses or programs enable extensive interaction with experts in the field and give international exposure to those people who want to go up the managerial ladder. Professionals who are pro-active and hone their technical and supervisory skills through advanced courses will always be valued members of their organization.