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Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries Proposal


Job quality, as well as employees’ satisfaction with it, is becoming more and more important nowadays. Some analysts even claim that these variables should be included in organizations’ annual reports and Wall Street critiques (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 60). Job quality is a complex and broad term.

It is about identification, commitment, and performance. If talking about employees, job quality is one of the main factors that determine the quality of life. If talking about organizations, the quality of jobs they offer is associated with the productivity of their work, organizational performance, achievement of goals, etc. In broader terms, the higher job quality in the country, the higher quality of life its citizens have, and the better national economic performance can be observed (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 60).

It is hard to determine what constitutes job quality. That is evident that the concept includes job satisfaction, conditions of work, salaries, wellbeing of workers, relationships within and outside the workforce and so on. However, it is impossible to recount all its attributes or determinants. There are several approaches that can be used to measure job quality. The first one is called the minimum standards approach (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 63).

It is based on the demands that every working arrangement is supposed to meet. Many of those demands are linked to basic human rights. However, the approach fails to measure job quality correctly since it is unable to provide any differentiation between those jobs that meet minimum standards; thus, it does not delve into the concept.

The next approach called the second tier standards approach considers a greater number of variables and goes beyond minimum labor standards (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 64). Apart from the primary labor standards, the approach also focuses on factors, which determine the so-called decent jobs – particular conditions that every individual reasonably expects from their work.

Examples include the healthy balance between working and non-working lives, employment security, protection of employees’ health and wellbeing, etc. Although this approach considers more factors than the previous one, it does not give any insight into job quality from the perspective of employees. The third method, the job quality index approach, is aimed to determine an index of job quality with the help of quantifications and measurements.

Again, just like the previous two methods, this one overlooks the impact that job quality determinants have on the workforce. Finally, there is the job characteristics approach. It determines basic elements that constitute job satisfaction, both objective and subjective ones, and examines those against particular jobs (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 65). This method is the most common and used in this paper as well.

The present-day situation in the market worsens job quality and makes people from all over the world feel various job difficulties. The main and the first difficulty every applicant faces is the difficulty of finding a job. As John Martin, the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labor, and Social Affairs, states, for almost half of the century, the world economy has been in the middle of the financial and economic crisis (par. 1).

This crisis caused another one – the so-called jobs crisis, which resulted in significantly higher unemployment rates. In OECD countries, an average unemployment rate had increased by 2.9% in two years: from 5.6% in 2007 to 8.5% in 2009 (Martin par. 1). In other words, 15 million more employees became unemployed (Martin par. 1). As for the United Arab Emirates, the same variables are lower: for example, in 2009, the total unemployment rate was only 4% (“The United Arab Emirates Unemployment Summary” par. 3).

Evidently, there are several groups of employees who suffer from the jobs crisis the most. Those are young people, unskilled employees, immigrants, representatives of various ethical of minorities, people who occupy temporary positions or have atypical jobs (Martin par. 1). With this in mind, not only the general unemployment rate should be considered but also additional variables (such as the youth unemployment rates, the role and amount of non-native workforce, the skill levels of employees, etc.) should be taken into account.

The jobs crisis caused not only the rise of unemployment rates but also a significant decrease in the quality of work, primarily declines in salaries and less satisfactory working conditions.

That is why, to understand the job quality and job difficulties in both the United Arab Emirates and OECD countries, different subjective variables, such as factors that contribute to job dissatisfaction (low wages, long hours, suitability of jobs, etc.), should be considered. Finally, the research should also address how the level of job satisfaction depends on particular positions and industries since the distribution of the workforce between various industries is evidently uneven.

Literature Review

To investigate the issue of job satisfaction and job quality in the UAE and OECD countries, prove the importance of the topic and built the hypotheses that will be presented further in the proposal, a lot of statistical data has been gathered. First of all, that is the information regarding the unemployment levels.

As for the OECD, the unemployment rate varies widely from country to country. For example, such nations as Korea, Japan, and Norway have the lowest levels of unemployment: 3.5%, 3.6% and 3.6% respectively (OECD, “Unemployment rate” par. 1). In Spain, South Africa, and Greece, the same indicators are higher than 20: 22.4%, 25.3% and 26.3% respectively (OECD, “Unemployment rate” par. 1).

The total value in OECD countries is approximately 7.3% (OECD, “Unemployment rate” par. 1). In the United Arab Emirates, on the contrary, the general unemployment rate is 3.80%, which is significantly lower than any figure presented above, including even the lowest ones (“The United Arab Emirates Unemployment Summary” par. 1).

Even considering additional variables, the situation in the UAE is still better. Let us take, for example, such statistical data as youth unemployment rates. When it comes to the OECD, the percentage of the unemployed young population varies from 6.9% and 7.8% in such countries as Japan and Germany to values higher than 50 in Croatia, South Africa, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Spain and Greece (OECD, “Youth unemployment rate” par. 1).

In 2013, an average value was 16.2% (OECD, “Youth unemployment rate” par. 1). The youth unemployment rate in the United Arab Emirates for the same year is only 9.9%, which is significantly less than in the majority of OECD countries (“The United Arab Emirates Unemployment Summary” par. 1).

However, that does not mean that the UAE citizens face no difficulties in finding jobs and working. Many literature sources reveal such drawbacks as low-skilled employees and the enormous number of non-native workers, which both contribute to job difficulties (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 67; Muysken and Nour 964).

The number of unskilled workers in the UAE is rather high, and one of the primary reasons for that is the poor quality of education. In their article, Muysken and Nour state that the United Arab Emirates invests in their educational system less than other Gulf countries; besides, nearly 50% of the population have educational attainment below secondary schooling, and 30-40% of citizens do not have any formal education (964).

According to the same source, less than the half of all native Emiratis are working (Muysken and Nour 965). The population of the UEA is rather small and almost three-fourths of it are non-native workers (Connell, Burgess and Hannif 68). However, the majority of foreign employees are also unskilled, which creates the surplus supply of unskilled labor force. All of this, in its turn, determines the price of the workforce: with more unskilled employees in supply, employers are not willing to pay too high wages.

That explains why the most common difficulty that people searching for jobs in the UAE face is a too low salary (Scott-Jackson, Owens and Mogielnick 18). Apart from this, foreign employees also feel pressure because of the Labor Law that gives the priority to native Emiratis (“Employment Issues in the United Arab Emirates” 1). However, even considering all of this, only 20% of Emiratis said that the search for a job was difficult for them while more than 50% of those said it was easy (Scott-Jackson, Owens and Mogielnick 17).

Another interest of the research is whether job satisfaction depends on the industry type. The literature confirms that there might be the connection. According to the study by Scott-Jackson, Owens and Mogielnick, the Emirati respondents usually wanted to work in the public sector, the sphere of defense and security, finance industry, and oil and gas industry (7).

The least number of people wanted to work in the industrial sphere (Scott-Jackson, Owens and Mogielnick 7). As for OECD countries, the very similar statistics can be seen. As it is shown in the “Employment Outlook” of 2001 provided by the OECD, the goods-producing industry is much less likely to be associated with high job satisfaction as compared with the service industry (89).

Although the majority of sources address employment issues and job quality in the UAE or OECD countries separately, something has already been done to link these areas together. As a prime example, the study by Connell, Burgess and Hannif mentioned above compares the current situation in the United Arab Emirates and Australia. Still, the further research is needed to see the complete picture.


Considering the background information provided in the introduction and the literature research, two following hypotheses can be formulated for the further research.

Hypothesis 1: If the number of low-skilled workers affects job quality and creates more job-related difficulties, employees in the United Arab Emirates might feel those because of the surplus supply of unskilled labor force in this country.

Hypothesis 2: In an industry type has an impact on job satisfaction, employees are more likely to choose the service sector instead of the goods-producing industry.

To test the hypotheses and confirm or deny those, the further research is necessary.


To fill in the gaps in the literature discussed above and verify the hypotheses, the qualitative research should be conducted. Data for the study should be gathered with the help of two different methods: interviews with participants and literature analysis.

Interviews constitute the first part of the research project. People to interview should be chosen through the convenience sampling from among the employees in the United Arab Emirates, both native Emiratis and foreigners. The sample should consist of at least a hundred of workers of both genders, different ages, nationalities, and positions. Interviews can be conducted both in person and over the phone or by other means of communication.

The respondents should be asked about the difficulties they have faced while trying to get the job and later, during the work directly. All factors that can contribute to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction (wages, working hours, working conditions, etc.) should be addressed in interviews.

Since the primary reason for employees in the UAE to face more job difficulties than workers in OECD countries is the fact that the majority of them are low skilled, interviewees should be asked about their proficiency, education level, etc. All gathered information should be structured and systematized, particularly sorted by industries; so that not only the first but also the second hypothesis can be confirmed or denied.

After data about job difficulties and job satisfaction in the UAE is collected and systematized, the literature research should be conducted to compare the information gathered through interviews with data from OECD countries. If it is possible, employees from OECD countries can also be interviewed (that can be accomplished via Skype or social networks, for example).


Job quality and satisfaction are crucial for both employees and employers, as well as for the development of a country as such. If workers are satisfied with their positions and working conditions, they do their best instead of the required minimum, the productivity of their work increases, and that makes organizations operate more efficiently and boosts the economy of the whole country, raising the quality of life.

The United Arab Emirates is a relatively new country, which has already shown its uniqueness due to an incredibly quick economic growth and development. As it is connected to the topic of the research, the UAE has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, including those regarding youth.

However, the level of job satisfaction and difficulties that employees face while searching for a job and working in organizations seem to depend on much more factors. Even though the percentage of unemployed people in the UAE is lower than in any OECD country, people there might face more difficulties because of the surplus supply of unskilled labor force.

The research proposed in this paper will fill in the gaps that are present in the literature now and will determine if employees in the United Arab Emirates feel more or less job-related difficulties than workers in OECD countries. It will also give the precise answer to the question if job satisfaction depends on the industry type.

Nevertheless, several limitations of the research are evident. First of all, there is a territorial issue. It is possible to interview personally only those employees who work in the UAE. People from OECD countries can be interviewed only over the phone or online. Secondly, the sample we can choose for the research is too small. However, additional literature research can help to overcome those obstacles.

Works Cited

Connell, Julia, John Burgess and Zeenobiyah Hannif. “Job Quality: What does it Mean, What does it Matter? Comparisons between Australia and the UAE.” International Journal of Employment Studies 16.1 (2008): 59-78. Print.

Employment Issues in the United Arab Emirates 2014. Web.

Martin, John P. . Web.

Muysken, Joan and Samia Nour. “Deficiencies in Education and Poor Prospects for Economic Growth in the Gulf Countries: The Case of the UAE.” Journal of Development Studies 42.6 (2006): 957-980. Print.

OECD., 2001. Web.

OECD. , 2015. Web.

OECD. , 2015. Web.

Scott-Jackson, William, Scott Owens and Robert Mogielnick. Emirati Employment Report: A national view of a national issue. Web.

The United Arab Emirates Unemployment Summary, 2013. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 19). Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/job-difficulties-and-job-satisfaction-in-the-uae-and-oecd-countries/

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"Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries." IvyPanda, 19 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/job-difficulties-and-job-satisfaction-in-the-uae-and-oecd-countries/.

1. IvyPanda. "Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/job-difficulties-and-job-satisfaction-in-the-uae-and-oecd-countries/.


IvyPanda. "Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/job-difficulties-and-job-satisfaction-in-the-uae-and-oecd-countries/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/job-difficulties-and-job-satisfaction-in-the-uae-and-oecd-countries/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Job Difficulties and Job Satisfaction in the UAE and OECD Countries'. 19 December.

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