I was recently recommended to read some articles written by Mohammed Khnifer a well-known journalist with an intricate knowledge of Islamic Finance & Banking. One of the articles I read was titled Voices of the Unheard – Salvaging the Next Generation of Islamic Bankers which was a heartfelt and illuminating insight into the frustrations of those hard-working, diligent graduates who had invested time and money in attaining Islamic Finance qualifications. Often these graduates have an underlying passion and belief similar to that demonstrated by those who study medicine or theology. An instinct that not only is a career in Islamic Finance potentially well rewarded financially, it is morally, ethically and socially the right thing to do.
It should be exciting times for individuals such as Haseeb Muhammad, who is the principle focus of the original article. This is an individual who having studied and attained an MSc, Islamic Banking and Finance found himself working for an International Hotel Chain. He describes himself as “Depressed and Demoralised”
The story shocked me, and if I am honest as a seasoned recruiter the reference to the lack of support from the recruitment industry actually made me cringe a little. Okay, I’m a Headhunter or an Executive Search & Selection Consultant as we are more commonly known, but I know that recruitment companies are usually brilliant at providing resources and advice to Graduates. Many of them have built reputations and businesses upon their graduate recruitment schemes.
It would appear that despite all the exuberant claims that the Islamic Finance industry will grow exponentially over the coming years as both Muslim and non-Muslim investors around the World look for more ethical and socially acceptable products and services, the demand for new talent is if anything stagnant. It would seem that the emerging talent is finding their entry to the emerging market a little futile. Why?
I spent an hour searching through a multitude of website and job boards (the best of which was Sharia Appointments ) for graduate / entry-level positions into Islamic Finance organisations, focusing on locations such as Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Central Europe. It was hard work, maybe even futile. Literally hundreds of recruiters out there advertising jobs but almost all were senior management or executive level roles. More often than not every link that even closely resembled a potential job opportunity turned out to be an organisation wanting to sell me a course or an event.
Mohammed Khnifer quotes a research paper by the Global International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) which concludes that within the next decade the industry is going to require c50’000 graduates. So demand should be there and visible for all to see right now. But if the current generation are experiencing these difficulties in terms of pursuing their careers, gradually the fascination and / or the inclination to pursue these courses of study will deteriorate. The next generation may not exist!
What can be done to rectify this situation? Is this a Human Resources issue or a recruitment companies opportunity?
Maybe if a Global Corporate Recruiter created a graduate recruitment division aimed firmly and squarely at Islamic Banking & Finance Graduates and the IF sector they could make a difference? Maybe if additional services were offered to students and graduates by this Recruitment Company such as interview coaching and preparation, CV writing and job search advice individuals such as Haseeb Muhammad would not feel so frustrated?
Or maybe the Islamic Banking and Finance education sector should create a specific Milk Round so that the best organisations within this exciting and rapidly growing emerging market can engage and select the best emerging talent?
I have loads of ideas on how we can address or at least begin to change this situation. But I am only one man with limited time. Like many people in the recruitment industry I find the expectation, the excitement and the anticipation of the Islamic Banking and Finance sector exhilarating. I’ve been involved to one extent or another in this sector for over 6yrs and have seen the immense development of banks and financial systems in places such as Saudi Arabia first hand. To that extent it is the responsibility of all who participate, engage and wish to be part of this industry to help it attain its potential. To make sure that the talent, the innovation and the passion that will secure its future is ready and available.