More than half of the region’s employers, 52%, are planning to recruit over the next few months, as the region picks up following the global economic downturn- 26% definitely hiring and 26% probably hiring, according to the new Jobs Index study conducted by the region’s number one job site Bayt.com, in conjunction with research specialists YouGov Siraj. In the UAE, a quarter of the respondents said that their organisations would definitely be hiring in the next three months, and another 23% said they would probably be hiring. Just under a fifth, 19%, said they probably or definitely would not be hiring in the next quarter.
Around the Middle East and North Africa region, countries reported varying propensity to hire as part of the Jobs Index. More than a third of respondents in Oman, 34%, said they would definitely be hiring in the next three months. This was closely followed by Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, where 31% and 30% respectively said their organisations will definitely be recruiting new staff in the coming months.
Around the Gulf, the countries largely varied in terms of their intentions to hire more staff. In Qatar, 55% said they would definitely or probably hire in the coming three months, compared to 53% in Kuwait and just 47% in Bahrain. The figures suggest that organisations in Saudi Arabia are currently faring the best during this current economic cycle.
The Jobs Index (JI) is conducted to gauge perceptions of job availability and hiring, to identify job trends and to provide an understanding of the key skill sets and qualifications required in the Middle East job market.
When asked how many jobs would be available in the next three months, 42% of respondents said that there would be less than five jobs ‘on offer’ for job seekers in their organisations. Another 24% said that their organisations would be offering around six to 10 jobs, while at the other end of the spectrum, just 3% of the respondents said that more than 100 jobs would be available.
In terms of the jobs that would be available in the next quarter, junior members of staff are the most likely to be employed; 22% of organisations said that they would be looking to employ junior executives, followed by 21% that said they would be looking to hire on an executive level. Unsurprisingly, limited C-suite jobs are going to be on offer: 2% said they would be seeking to appoint a new President, 5% said they plan to appoint a CEO, and 6% said they would advertise vacancies for a COO, CFO or CMO.
According to the study, organisations around the Middle East favour employing staff that are graduates in the fields of engineering or business management: 21% of organisations agreed that these two were the most important disciplines. The Gulf countries all showed a significant preference for graduates in these areas. Less important qualifications according to the study were qualifications in law and hospitality, with just 5% and 4% of organisations respectively agreeing that these are important when selecting staff.
“This data with regard to preferred qualifications is interesting, but it is perhaps more indicative of the dominant industries that exist in the region, rather than the fact that some types of qualifications are seen as worth less than others,” commented Lama Ataya, Head of Marketing, Bayt.com. “Considering that the Gulf region is growing significantly in terms of its industrial output and in terms of its intellectual capital as a finance and commerce global hub, then the case is very clearly made as to why graduates in these fields are likely to find it easier than others to find employment.”
Good communication skills in English and Arabic were clearly advantageous among the region’s organisations when selecting a new employee: 60% said that these skills were most desirable when choosing potential candidates. Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were the countries that placed most emphasis on these bilingual skills, with 71% and 69% respectively citing them as the clear skill priority. In the UAE, just 55% of employers stated that English and Arabic language skills were important; while being a cooperative and helpful team player and possessing good leadership skills were all similarly important traits in new recruits.
“As many regional companies struggled to stop spiraling costs during the recession, many people caught in the cross-fire lost their jobs. It follows now, as business picks up, that companies find themselves short-staffed and in need to recruit. This is another indication that the economic situation is improving,” said Joanna Longworth, Chief Marketing Officer, YouGov Siraj.
The JI is in part gauged by asking the respondents what their hiring expectancy is in a year’s time; this forms the Hiring Expectancy Index (HEI). In the long term, 66% of the region’s organisations expect to hire, suggesting widespread optimism for the future. Oman, Algeria and Saudi Arabia were found to be good potential countries for job seekers, with 57%, 45% and 43% respectively saying that they will definitely hire. In the UAE, 33% of organisations said that they will definitely be hiring in a year’s time, while another 30% said they will probably hire in a year.
All of the Gulf countries, with the exception of Qatar, came across as optimistic for the future in terms of projected capacity to hire. Following Saudi Arabia’s positive lead, 38% in Bahrain and 34% in Kuwait said they will definitely be hiring next year, compared to Qatar’s total of 31% – the lowest figure among all the surveyed countries. Notably, respondents in Algeria (45%), Jordan and Tunisia (35% each) all said they will be hiring in a year’s time, suggesting significant predicted growth in these countries.
When asked how they rate their current country of residence as a job market compared to those around the rest of the region, respondents in the UAE were the most positive about their country: 49% said it was much more attractive than other countries. Positivity about current country of residence was also felt in KSA (44%) and Qatar (38%).
Asked which industries the respondents feel are attracting or retaining top talent in their country of residence today, the majority agreed it was either banking and finance (32%) or telecommunications (31%). “This is most likely as a result of the perception that banking and finance and telecoms positions are the highest paid in the region, and as a direct result, manage to retain their well-paid talent,” explained Longworth.
“By launching the Jobs Index and conducting it quarterly to gauge how the region’s employers feel they are poised – or conversely – poorly-placed to hire in the coming months which can then be compared over time, we will be eliciting a clear overview of the way that the region’s job market is moving – allowing us to chart its improvements, stability or indeed decline,” commented Ataya.
“We therefore want to use this data to enable regional businesses, HR professionals and other relevant industry stakeholders to have an up-to-date series of indicators about job market trends across the Middle East.”
Data for the October 2009 Jobs Index was collected online between 1 and 21 October 2009 with 5,084 executive managers/HR managers/senior officials from the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan. Males and females aged over 18 years old, of all nationalities, were included in the survey.