Islamic finance graduates: Do we have an unemployment issue?

As the number of graduates from Islamic finance programs increases, the demand for employability skills that students learn during their time in universities and colleges also increases. Thus, there has been growing interest in the development of ‘employability skills’.

The issues surrounding human capital across the global Islamic finance industry today typically highlight the shortage of talent. One severe problem is the mismatch between the industry itself on one side and academic institutions and students on the other side. Upon graduation, students find themselves in a predicament when they apply for Islamic finance jobs on the basis that they do not meet the requirements for these positions for various reasons that include lack of employability skills.

In my previous report, I highlighted skills which are most sought-after by employers and the most useful for graduates. To recall, these are basic literacy and numeracy, the ability to work well with others, communication skills, self-motivation, the ability to organize one’s work, a necessary capability to use information technology, dedication and commitment as well as business and customer awareness and problem-solving.

The shortage of human resources in the Islamic finance industry lies in the fact that the industry is dominated by practitioners who are 90% trained and experienced in the conventional finance industry with only a 10% knowledge of Islamic finance. The industry resorts to hiring traditional bankers and other financial professionals due to the limited supply of qualified and competent Islamic finance professionals. The market assumes that Islamic bankers must have sufficient knowledge of conventional banking processes and systems in addition to Islamic finance-acquired skills and knowledge. Islamic finance professionals need to have the necessary employability skills as there are market requirements for the jobs.

It is therefore recommended that students be equipped with communication skills, problem-solving skills, managerial skills and critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret financial data. Students should also have better proactive thinking skills, equip themselves with business-related skills and develop their self-confidence. In addition, students should be willing to learn and adapt to the changing working environment. Therefore, universities should embed job market qualification requirements into the syllabus or have adjunct lecturers from the industries to ensure students are well prepared for the working environment. Last but not the least, universities should inculcate into students ethical values of honesty, integrity, objectivity, independence and being hardworking.

Dr Kamola Bayram is an assistant professor at KTO Karatay University, Turkey as well as a project consultant and advisor for project management at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected]