UAE employers are planning a net expansion in headcount during 2019, with an increasing share of the new jobs being filled by Asian professionals, citing the lower salary expectations of these candidates as the primary reason, says a new survey.
A survey by online recruitment firm GulfTalent revealed a 9 per cent growth in UAE's employment sector in 2019. This is based on the finding that 36 per cent of all surveyed companies plan to increase headcount this year, against 27 per cent who expect to reduce staff and 37 per cent who foresee no change.
Over the past year, Asian nationals saw a 12 per cent increase in their share of approaches by UAE employers hiring on GulfTalent, while Arab and Western expats saw declines of 8 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
"Our hiring preference has been towards Asian expats, as it gives us a balance between the right skill set and a salary expectation that fits our budget," said a UAE-based HR manager, interviewed by GulfTalent.
Among expatriate professionals working in the UAE and holding the same job title, salaries paid to Asian nationals are on average 20 per cent lower than Arab nationals and 40 per cent lower than Western nationals. The gaps in expatriate salary expectations are influenced by the prevailing salaries in the candidates' home countries.
Among nationalities commanding a significant share of the UAE hiring activity, Indian and Pakistani professionals have seen the biggest surge in interest from employers over the past year, followed by those from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
At the same time, American, Canadian and Australian nationals all saw declines in hiring by UAE employers. Approaches to British nationals also declined but to a lesser extent, possibly due to the continued low value of the British currency following the Brexit referendum, making salary expectations of British expats more affordable for UAE employers.
In their effort to reduce costs, employers surveyed also reported reaching out to less experienced candidates. This is consistent with interactions observed on GulfTalent's website, where candidates below the age of 35 have seen a 6 per cent increase in approaches by employers over the past 12 months, while those aged 35 or more have seen a decline of 5 per cent over the same period.
GulfTalent's survey found the fastest growing sectors to be IT and healthcare, both witnessing a 30 per cent year-on-year growth in the volume of hiring.
Healthcare's growth is driven by legislation mandating provision of health insurance by employers. This has resulted in a much higher share of the UAE population utilising healthcare services, increasing demand for doctors, nurses as well as support staff.
According to GulfTalent's findings, the construction sector remains under pressure, with overall hiring limited and some companies downsizing. Retail is another sector that is facing challenging conditions.
The study was based on a survey of 300 UAE hiring managers, as well as analysis of talent searches conducted by over 1,000 UAE-based employers on GulfTalent's database of professionals.
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