What employers are looking for in Islamic finance graduates

It is well established that there is currently a shortage of human capital in Islamic finance. Evidently, the Islamic capital market was revealed to be the most affected sector with an identified shortage of 88%, followed by Takaful at 63% and banking at 50% (IFN, 2015). On the asset management side, the Thomson Reuters Global Islamic Asset Management Outlook 2015 highlighted that Islamic wealth management is expected to pick up speed in the Middle East and one of the challenges identified is the lack of talent development and market awareness.

Based on the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre’s 2013 report, Islamic finance graduates make up 11% of the total workforce in the Islamic financial service industry worldwide. This reflects the shortage of Islamic finance talents. According to IFN, the main reason for talent shortages in Islamic finance is the lack of technical and Shariah knowledge, as well as more generic skills such as product innovation and strategic planning. It is estimated that one million professionals in Islamic finance will be required by 2020.

A survey conducted by the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators examined the employability skills of Islamic finance graduates. Islamic finance graduates include holders of PhD, Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in the five domains, namely Muamalat, Islamic finance, Islamic economics, Islamic management and accounting. The survey covered a wide range of issues related to Islamic finance graduates, including employer preferences on the institutions of higher learning and the quality of Islamic finance graduates, besides employability skills.

Based on Chart 1, most of the respondents were from education resources institutions (40%), followed by financial services (24%) and public services (15%).

Employers were asked to rate Islamic finance graduates’ skills that should be acquired based on the given scale. On average, employers expect a lot from Islamic finance graduates, especially skills such as communication skills, creative thinking skills and managerial skills.

The survey also reported an interesting finding in terms of language skills whereby employers prefer Islamic finance graduates to have a high proficiency in the Arabic language. The findings showed that Islamic finance graduates scored a mean value of 4.28 which is in the average category. This implies that Islamic finance graduates should master the Arabic language in addition to English.

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]