The UAE continued to generate new jobs during most of 2018 with Dubai emerging the brightest spot in the country's employment market.
According to data from the Central Bank of the UAE, employment eased in the third quarter, growing moderately by 0.6 per cent compared to an increase of 1.2 per cent in the second quarter. Accordingly, employment rose by 1.6 per cent during the first three quarters on average, compared to a 2.6 per cent increase during the same period in 2017.
Quoting data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the central bank report said that total employment in the UAE was 5.025 million, of which 51.3 per cent are based in Dubai, 27.5 per cent in Abu Dhabi and 21.2 per cent in the Northern Emirates.
Dubai was the main driver for growth in the labour market during 2017 and in the first three quarters of 2018, with an average quarterly growth rate of 0.8 per cent. The emirate created 45,900 new jobs in the first three quarters with a growth rate of 1.8 per cent compared to the end of 2017. However, employment growth rates in the emirate started to pick up in the third quarter of 2018, reaching a quarter-on-quarter growth around 0.7 per cent compared to 0.03 per cent in the previous three-month period.
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, had an average drop in employment growth during the first three quarters of 2018 by 3.3 per cent compared to a 0.7 per cent growth during the same period in 2017.
Similarly, in the Northern Emirates, employment decreased by 0.46 per cent in the third quarter on a quarter-to-quarter basis, compared to a decline of 0.86 per cent in the second.
Suhail Masri, vice-president of employer solutions at Bayt.com, said Dubai and Abu Dhabi emerge as the top cities in terms of job availability in the Mena region. The two emirates are also the top cities in terms of benefits for working parents.
"Dubai and Abu Dhabi are all rated highest on ability to find skilled and well-educated talent to employ," he added.
Pankaj Mundra, co-founder of Nimai Group, said all seven emirates have taken various initiatives in the last few years to promote employment but Dubai remains the favourite destination for expats, as well as new investors and employers.
According to the central bank data, employment in the construction sector, which accounts for around 30 per cent of the total workforce in the UAE, moderated at a downward pace as it increased jobs by 1 per cent. Real estate and other sectors reached 4.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively.
The construction and real estate sectors together absorb around 46 per cent of the labour force in the UAE. Employment in both sectors eased to 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018, against a 2.8 per cent increase in the previous quarter.
Slower employment growth was mainly driven by the services sector - employing more than 20 per cent of the total - which decreased by 1.3 per cent in the third quarter, followed by manufacturing and transport, and storage and communication sectors, which declined by 1.1 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.
Accordingly, employment growth rates in the UAE remained virtually stable with a quarter-on-quarter decline of 0.05 per cent in the third quarter, similar to the previous three-month period.
On a sectoral level, the construction, services and real estate sectors account for 67.9 per cent of total employment. The growth rates of employment in the construction and services sectors declined 0.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter, respectively, while real estate witnessed an increase of 0.68 per cent in the third quarter.
Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO of Monster for the Asia-Pacific, said technology-related occupations in the UAE have witnessed the most growth in 2018 at 25 per cent during the first three quarters of the year.
"The recent increase in hiring activity within the sector is no surprise given the UAE's rapid digital transformation, as well as the recent announcements of smart city mega projects like Sharjah's $6.5 billion Aljada Smart City. As Expo 2020 Dubai approaches, we are also seeing an influx of occupations related to advertising and marketing as Dubai continues to promote and position itself as an attractive global destination for tourism and FDI," said Mukherjee.
Masri said that based on employers' responses to the Middle East Job Index Survey, the real estate and construction sector (34 per cent) emerges as the industry that attracts top talent across the UAE, followed by advertising, marketing and public relations (32 per cent), banking and finance (30 per cent), engineering (26 per cent), IT (24 per cent), business consultancy (23 per cent) and telecom (21 per cent).
Mundra noted that contracting companies have employed and will employ as they get ready to deliver projects for Expo 2020.
"Hospitality and tourism sectors continue to grow as Dubai and others emirates keep building new landmarks to attract tourists. The Dubai Frame, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Noor Island in Sharjah are the new landmarks that have attracted tourists to stay one or two extra [days]. Ten years back a tourist will stay for four days in Dubai, which have just doubled to eight days, creating new job opportunities," he said.
In addition, there are also new opportunities for finance professionals due to the implementation of value-added tax. Senior finance professionals in Dubai will see opportunities in tax audit in 2019.
By Waheed Abbas
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