x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Job listings double in a year across the region

The number of job vacancies across the Gulf has more than doubled in a year, according to the employment website Monster.com.

The number of job vacancies across the Gulf has more than doubled in a year, according to one of the world's biggest employment websites.

Monster.com says there was a 117 per cent increase last month in regional job postings compared with November last year. UAE job listings grew 71 per cent in the same period.

There was a 136 per cent rise in jobs listed in Saudi Arabia, while listings in Qatar more than tripled.

Recruiters and economists said this indicated a wider economic recovery. "Across industry sectors there is a positive momentum … Employers are talking about expanding their recruitment activities," said Sanjay Modi, the managing director of Monster.com in the Middle East, India and South East Asia.

Mr Modi named five industry sectors that "drive the momentum": construction, manufacturing, energy, IT and finance.

"Each one of them is showing a positive, robust growth. None had a decline at all," he said. "We can expect this momentum to continue because it was not just driven by one or two sectors."

Mr Modi cited a 117 per cent increase in the number of job listings in the six GCC countries plus Lebanon, Egypt and Jordanlast month compared with November last year.

During the economic downturn, there was a decline in job postings, he said. "It dropped by 47-48 per cent from March until October 2009, and then from November until about January or February there was a stabilisation process." Other recruiters also reported an increase in the number of jobs being posted in the region.

"We had a very busy second and third quarter," said Christo Daniels, the managing director of the recruitment firm Morgan McKinley in the UAE. "The economy is showing signs of recovery and we are expecting growth of 30 per cent next year."

Lama Ataya, the head of marketing and communication for the regional employment site Bayt.com, said its total job postings had nearly doubled over the past year, from about 6,000 to 11,500.

Maria Brown, the MENA region associate director for the employment agency Reed Specialist Recruitment, said "the figures are definitely up" but added that from her company's perspective, the Monster.com numbers seem "rather inflated".

"From a Qatar point of view, the market has been consistent. It's always had a positive growth pattern. I think this week's events, with the winning of the [2022] World Cup, has cemented many companies' expansion plans," Ms Brown said. "From a UAE perspective, there's been a lot of strategic restructuring. There's a lot of organic growth."

Simon Williams, the chief economist for MENA at HSBC, said "employment growth is picking up speed".

"This is a marker that businesses are feeling confident and is a good leading indicator of growth in private consumption and credit," he said.

But job creation in the UAE's non-oil private sector was at its weakest last month in the 16-month history of HSBC's purchasing managers' index, according to data released yesterday. Managing costs was an important reason for the slowdown, according to evidence gathered by the survey.

New orders and company expansions accounted for the jobs growth, HSBC said.

Although more companies may be recruiting as confidence in the future improves, many firms remain reluctant to increase staff salaries, Mr Williams said.

"Wage growth is very weak and that's because we have a fairly loose labour market," he said.

Hiring has gradually resumed this year as companies look to fill positions cut during the economic downturn, or as part of a drive to expand.

A longer-term challenge for governments and private companies in the region remains making inroads into the relatively high number of unemployed GCC nationals, especially among the young. Youth unemployment in Saudi Arabia is estimated at 28 per cent, 27 per cent in Bahrain, and 12 per cent in the UAE.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

tarnold@thenational.ae