Career Uncertainty in the United Arab Emirates

Subject: Education
Pages: 17
Words: 2125
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD


When people enter the workforce for the first time, they cannot comprehend all peculiarities of decision-making and working processes and develop a strong understanding of personal interests, abilities, and demands. Career uncertainty bothers people of different age. Workers may want to change their careers, earn more, or try something new. Therefore, career uncertainty may have various economic, financial, social, and personal causes. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a fast developing country where people understand their roles and use their opportunities. Many UAE companies aim at promoting a rich future for the country and raising cosmopolitan centers (Dubai world trade center: about us 2017).

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To support the idea of development, the UAE people have to dispose of career uncertainty. Cognitive and behavioral techniques are introduced to encourage students and adult employees, promote cultural awareness, and explain career management (Law, Amundson & Alden 2014). The Middle East is the region where such issues as traditions, culture, respect, and male-female relations gain a new serious meaning that cannot be neglected by society and organizations (Sikdar & Mitra 2012). Deductive research based on a qualitative interview and the basics of a phenomenology study will be developed to investigate the peculiar features of career uncertainty in the UAE.

Research Problem

In many European countries and the United States, a job market is slow and unstable, and the Gulf States are the places where people’s academic skills and qualifications are used to find satisfying jobs with high salaries (Working in the UAE and Qatar 2017). The UAE is the country of expats (Townsend 2016). People come to visit the country and use its opportunities without even thinking about their possible impact on its economic conditions and native citizens who cannot find jobs and suffer from career uncertainty. Approximately 72% of a total population is expatriates who come to the Gulf region to work (de Bel-Air 2015). Migrants and low awareness of effective career management are two causes of career uncertainty for the UAE.

Research Questions

“Is career uncertainty in the UAE a real problem or just a challenge resulted in poorly explained career management that can have a solution?” is the main research question in the paper. Additional questions which create a conceptual framework of the paper are:

  1. What are the peculiarities of career management from the global perspective and from the UAE perspective?
  2. What are personal and professional challenges in career development?
  3. What is career uncertainty?
  4. What may career uncertainty lead to? What are its outcomes?
  5. Are there any solutions for career uncertainty?

Literature Review

Career Management and Development

A career is an overarching concept in terms of which people can develop their work-related experience and combine their personal and social needs (Bimrose, McMahon & Watson 2014). People should learn how to create their portfolios and make correct decisions (Fabricant, Miller & Stark 2013). However, the world of jobs and careers undergoes significant changes fast, and people have to manage their careers in the chosen environment (Liburd 2014). They do not find it necessary to set goals and achieve them in a certain period of time. Success, speed, and results are the main factors to career management. There is a career cycle that any person has to experience, and each stage is a new step that may be characterized by certain changes in people’s roles, activities, and expectations (Hess 2014).

Personal and Professional Challenges in the UAE

In the UAE, job opportunities have been considerably reduced during the last several years (Maceda 2016). Recruitment activities may be limited in one type of companies and deeply developed in other areas. For example, in the UAE banking and financial services, the biggest drop in recruitment (that is 42%) is observed (Maceda 2017a). To avoid recruitment complications, potential businesspeople use start-ups to promote the growth of employment numbers neglecting the fact that certain risk factors can be raised as well (Maceda 2017b).

Career Uncertainty: The UAE and Global Perspectives

Though the number of workers employed annually in the UAE reaches approximately 4.5 million people (Nagraj 2015), there are many people who still suffer from career uncertainty. In many countries, students or employees who want to change their working places use a gap year to understand what kind of work they may need, what fields are beneficial for them in regards to the knowledge and abilities gained, and what academic decisions they can make to promote a good choice to be made (Rabie & Naidoo 2016). Career uncertainty is a problem that may influence different spheres of life. Still, it can hardly be defined as a global problem. It is a challenge people have to deal with in their life in regards to their location. In each country, certain values and roles are appreciated (Matthijs et al. 2016).

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Uncertainty is a detrimental factor to career development that can also touch upon personal growth and psychological adjustments (Lin, Wu & Chen 2015). In fact, career uncertainty is a complicated issue because some people find it obligatory to focus on careers, and some people find it necessary to support their work-family balance (Miller 2017). In the UAE, career uncertainty can be treated as an outcome of constant migration of people from European and African countries who want to find out new wealthier lives. Therefore, the UAE tries to introduce as many working places as possible and provide people from different parts of the world with its huge amount of job opportunities (Nagraj 2015).

Solutions for Career Uncertainty

Career uncertainty is a social, psychological, and emotional challenge that should have a solution. Coetzee and Harry (2014) offer to use emotional intelligence and career adaptability as one of the possible adaptations applicable to different spheres of life. Still, not much information is given on this type of relation (Coetzee & Harry 2014). Career development and inherent to it anxiety and chaos can be solved with the help of appropriate counseling and communication with people to improve their understanding of the main subjects (Law, Amundson & Alden 2014). Career aspirations supported by young people and adults who want to change their lives are the best factors to prove that personal and professional development can be available at any age (Gutman & Schoon 2012). Determination of goals, organizational development, and local modifications are appropriate for people who have already recognized their problems and are ready to deal with their career uncertainty (Rapoport 2013).

Methods and Instruments

The investigation of career uncertainty depends a lot on the methods and a chosen research design. In this study, qualitative research and a phenomenology research study are used to answer the main research questions. A qualitative approach to data collection, analysis, and interpretation of the results is characterized by random sampling and properly chosen literature in a manner inherent to a learning process (Creswell 2014). Qualitative research is a way of how the information can be gathered and introduced, and the connection between gathering and analysis has to be identified not to confuse the goals and answer research questions correctly (Clark & Creswell 2014).

A phenomenological perspective is used to comprehend the main idea of career uncertainty and evaluate the views of different people on the same issue. This method underlines the existing variety of human experience (Willig 2013). There are many ways of how to gather people’s opinions and knowledge, and qualitative interviewing is one of the available options (Edwards & Holland 2013). Like any kind of interview, it has its own nature, settings, and peculiarities. A researcher has to choose an appropriate sampling, develop specific conditions, and create a plan according to which the work with people has to be organized. An interview is an asymmetry of power and order with an interviewer who is able to define a situation, frame a topic, and choose a direction of communication (a researcher) and an interviewer who has to accept the conditions and follow the rules to present clear and necessary information (Edwards & Holland 2013).

With the help of phenomenological interpretation, it will be possible to observe what people know about career uncertainty, what methods they can choose to deal with it, and why career uncertainty may be characterized as a positive and negative factor in career growth.


Dealing with the issue of career uncertainty, it is vital for the researcher to focus on the individuals who represent the country’s job market. Sharing their ideas and experiences, they can provide a lot of information that should be used to get to know authoritative up-to-date data. The best way to reach this target is to resort to a quantitative interview. This method is the most appropriate for the investigation of the selected topic because the researcher can get the answer to the most interesting and obligatory questions which may appear in the discussion of career uncertainty. It is also advantageous because there is a possibility not to speak about the topic directly but to resort to personal examples, situations, and decisions. Comparing information obtained from the literature sources and interviews, the researcher can assess the current state of the problem and find out if previously used recommendations are successful in a new framework. Employee uncertainty is common among various professionals that is why it is advantageous to focus on the workers with different hierarchy levels. Qualitative approaches and phenomenological research designs have a number of advantages, and this study shows that a properly designed and prepared interview can be a solid basis for the development of the investigation about people’s knowledge of career uncertainty and the nature of career decisions they make regularly.


The topic of career uncertainty is worth discussing because it is connected not only with people’s opportunities and well-being but also with the condition of the whole country, especially its economic situation. Additional attention should be paid to the UAE framework, as the country develops extremely quickly and requires numerous employees to cope with various tasks aligned with the improved performance. The job market in the UAE is full of expats, which prevents native citizens from finding a workplace of their liking. What is more, the representatives of the general public have poor awareness of effective career management, which results into career uncertainty. To overcome this issue, it is vital to determine and address those challenges people usually face when looking for a job. With the help of a research study based on interviews and a phenomenological approach, it is possible to find out the main reasons of career uncertainty and to develop recommendations on how to improve it and support professional growth. If this issue is not decently approached, people will not be able to change their lives for better, and the country may start falling behind.

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In general, not much time has to be spent to introduce a strong and informative interview. The main challenge is to convince people to participate in the study and find enough time to answer several questions. Some participants do not want to be identified on researchers’ cameras or being their names mentioned in the paper. Therefore, all interviewees have numbers, and the name of the company they work for remains to be anonymous as well. Through the interviews developed, career uncertainty can be proved as a psychological concept that has its solution in case people focus on their career development and management as soon as they understand the necessity to make changes.

The results of the investigation show that many people in the UAE do not consider career uncertainty as a problem defining it as an outcome of personal weakness or inability. Employees from different hierarchical levels are usually satisfied with the jobs and positions they have at the moment. They are aware of how to use their job opportunities and deal with career uncertainty. Some people believe that career uncertainty is a problem. Still, there is always a solution for it, including time, the development of personal and professional skills, and the identification of appropriate motivating factors like people, salary, or personal satisfaction. Anyway, career uncertainty is a challenge that makes people stronger, and the UAE is the country where the level of this challenge’s impact can be decreased due to available opportunities and motivation.


The development of a similar study with the goal to understand the reasons for career success can be offered. Career uncertainty is a narrow concept that cannot be interpreted as a positive or negative factor in career development. Some people find career uncertainty as a chance to solve their personal and professional problems and make a correct decision, or avoid such uncertainty, or even do not believe in this concept. Therefore, it is necessary to pay more attention to career management and success in terms of which career uncertainty can be a part of the investigation.


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