Job rush in UAE: work opportunities on the up!
The job opportunities were up across the board in the UAE this year compared to the 2010 and 2009, buoyed by Abu Dhabi's economic growth, which has led to an exponential rise in vacancies in the emirate, according to a survey. However, despite the rise in job opportunities this year, it was still 40 per cent down compared to last year, said Morgan Mckinley in its annual 'UAE Salary Guide for 2012.' Morgan Mckinley said this guide was a snapshot of the most popular positions from mid-management level upwards within its four specialist divisions: Banking & Financial Services; Accountancy & Finance, Technical; Sales, Marketing & Support.
The company pointed out that Abu Dhabi witnessed a surge in job vacancies, although less heavily weighted in the public sector than at any point in the last five years. Morgan Mckinley said the global downturn has cut deeply into the UAE workforce and rightsizing of both salaries and headcount was all too apparent. The last two years have seen a further correction and there has been a more stable salary structure inline with inflation, while acute salary swings will be restricted to disciplines with a skill set or language shortage, the survey stated. For everyone else, a remuneration uplift of over 15 per cent is likely to remain a distant memory, it pointed out. With regard to the Banking and financial services, Morgan Mckinley said last year was interesting in terms of recruitment as the industry began with a sense of optimism and belief in the market followed by uncertainty and deterioration of confidence due to the global markets. International banks have looked at reigning in their international exposure, recalling teams of bankers back to their regional hubs and leaving a much smaller team of regional managers and originators in place.
'Regional banks and sovereign wealth funds have been able to take advantage of the talented bankers wishing to remain in the region and strengthen their teams. As for 2012, recruitment for the first and second quarters has and will be relatively modest,' the survey revealed.
Concerns about Europe, the Arab Spring and the media attention on bonus payments have all had varying affects on the confidence of the International and regional banks, it added. Morgan Mckinley said there is certainly a strong supply of talent available within the market and this is a great opportunity for senior management to improve their capabilities with investment in talent.
'Investment bankers who wish to remain in the Middle East are looking at areas they may not have once considered. Regional banks and sovereign wealth funds are all taking advantage of seasoned bankers to add value to their current offerings.' 'We are also seeing a willingness for bankers prepared to look outside of the UAE and consider posts further afield,' the survey added. The private banking industry too aims to attract a new generation of investors, a new set of skills, experience and talent are in demand in order to differentiate themselves from competitors. On the salary structure, Morgan Mckinley said: 'It's obvious to say that the best people will always command the best salaries, but in the current market, it is even more so.' 'There is a lot of talent now on the market; however clients want people who will bring in the business, whether it be corporate, investment or private banking and wealth management,' the company added. On the future outlook, the consultancy expert said, 'All in all we see modest salary increases for 2012.' According to Morgan Mckinley, the sectors of real prominence for finance professionals in the past year have been oil and gas, professional services, social media and technology.
A large percentage of hires have been geared towards the mid-level market, with the aim of organisations looking to develop talent who will become future leaders, it stated. 'Job seekers with analytical and management experience have been high on companies hiring agendas, with a rise of commercial roles filtering through. It’s imperative now to have the excellent accounting knowledge, as well as the personality to fit a company,' the survey noted. Morgan Mckinley pointed out that the GCC continued to be an attractive destination for professionals, particularly those from the EU’s more challenging economic environments.
'We have seen an increase in applications from Greece, Italy, Ireland and Spain, as well as increased interest in GCC countries which have historically found it difficult to attract oversees talent,' it added.
As the region establishes its talent pool, the subject of relocating individuals is increasingly difficult; apart from instances where specialist technical or industry experience is required, said the consultancy in its survey.
Finally, whilst companies continue their commitment to nationalisation, there is also a trend towards hiring professionals who are committed to the region, particularly those who are fully bilingual in Arabic and English, it added. According to the survey, the salaries are expected to rise by 6 per cent with analysts and CFO’s expecting increments at around the same level in 2011, according to various media sources. 'Long gone are the days of incredible salary increments, however the steady annual hikes in the UAE, are still some of the highest globally,' said Morgan Mckinley in its survey. The company also pointed out that bonuses have steadily improved from the tougher times of 2009/2010, with more investment and confidence filtering it’s way into the market. With regard to oil & gas, power and heavy industry, the survey said the scenario was proving to be especially buoyant in 2012 and was driving recruitment across the board within the Middle East.
As companies continue to review performance and overall costs, an awareness of the importance of improving cost, systems and procedures due to their impact on bottom line is much in evidence, it stated. More and more firms in the region are therefore seeking experienced professionals to improve their sales, tendering, IT and supply chain functions, which in turn is driving trends within recruitment, it added.
On a global scale, Morgan Mckinley said construction professionals were still the hardest hit talent pool of professional oversupply while companies recruiting across logistics, energy and manufacturing were competing for a limited talent pool as geographic boundaries become less defined.
Running parallel to the increasing cost of living, the Middle East has also experienced stronger competition from other regions for qualified staff, the survey pointed out. In particular, China, India and South East Asia are offering viable alternatives for employees, said the consultancy specialist. 'India will have a huge talent requirement in the next five years and with rising salaries in that market we are already seeing many Indian nationals returning home for better prospects. This underlines the necessity for companies to provide innovation and flexibility in salaries, remuneration packages and the work environment,' it added.
While the cost of living within the UAE has fallen since 2008, many analysts are seeing a turning point in 2012, both in accommodation and general living costs and this can act as a major deterrent for overseas professionals looking to relocate, especially as expatriate packages in recent months tend no longer to include generous perks such as fully paid accommodation and company vehicles. In the UAE, 48 per cent of employees had received a pay hike of more than 8 per cent at their last salary review and 49 per cent believe they will receive more than an 8 per cent increase at their next review, the survey added.
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