Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 25 September 2020

The UAE’s top 10 in-demand job roles for 2020

With economic growth in the Emirates 'set to accelerate' this year, candidates with specialist and digital skills will have the upper hand

Will the tablet replace the laptop? Getty Images
Will the tablet replace the laptop? Getty Images

The UAE’s top 10 in-demand roles for the first half of this year require specialised skills in an increasingly digital environment, while a resurgent local economy is expected to intensify the war for talent, according to recruitment consultant Robert Half UAE.

Management accountants, chief financial officers and risk managers top the list of the most in-demand job roles — with CFOs able to command up to $438,900 (Dh1.6 million) a year — based on data from Robert Half’s Salary Guide 2020.

As digitalisation continues to ramp up in many UAE businesses, hiring managers are also looking for heads of digital transformation, artificial intelligence developers and security analysts.

Overall, employers are looking for candidates with “specialist skills, industry experience and systems knowledge”, said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director of Robert Half UAE.

“With economic growth in the UAE set to accelerate this year, it is unsurprising to see faster evolution of the workplace. As companies adjust to the challenges and opportunities presented to their business, the need not only for top talent, but a meaningful ‘business fit’ for candidates, intensifies,” Mr El Mettouri said.

The World Bank forecasts economic growth in the UAE at 2.6 per cent in 2020 and 3 per cent for 2021 and 2022. It projected 1.8 per cent growth in 2019.

The UAE’s job market is set to improve in parallel, according to studies from several recruiters. Cooper Fitch said salaries will remain “broadly flat” across most sectors, but strategy positions are set for a 5 per cent increase. Almost half (45 per cent) of the 500 companies surveyed in Mercer’s fourth annual Total Remuneration Study plan to increase their headcount this year.

Remuneration trends such as flexible working, training and development will be essential for companies to attract new hires and retain top talent, according to Robert Half UAE.

For in-demand jobs, candidates can “expect negotiating room on flexible working and starting salaries with their remuneration packages”, Mr El Mettouri said.

Here are the top 10 in-demand roles for the first half of 2020 and the annual salary they can expect to be paid.

1. Management accountants ($79,300 — $113,000)

With an increase in start-ups in the UAE, there is rising demand for accounting professionals to organise their financial processes. At the same time, small and medium businesses, as well as large multinational companies, are looking for accountants to streamline costs.

Management accountants were the fourth most in-demand role in 2019 with an expected starting salary of $63,500.

2. Chief financial officers ($196,100 — $438,900)

There is a “talent deficit” across the finance and accounting sector, Robert Half UAE said. As the head of financial operations, chief financial officers are key to delivering business targets and, therefore, can command the highest salary of the UAE’s in-demand roles.

3. Risk managers ($98,100 — $156,900)

One of the most in-demand professions is risk managers due to rapid advancements in technology and the need to assess the dangers posed by these technologies.

4. Heads of digital / digital transformation ($170,800 — $261,600)

“The UAE technology market is one of the most competitive in the region,” Robert Half's analysis said. Heads of digital transformation are needed to oversee digital strategies across all types of businesses, which is why this role’s salary range is the second highest after chief financial officers.

5. Artificial intelligence (AI) developers ($52,300 — $125,100)

Artificial intelligence is the new frontier and candidates with mid- to senior-level experience will “stand out against the competition”, Robert Half said.

6. HR business partners ($65,400 — $98,000)

There will be a surge in demand for human resources business partners who specialise in the benchmarking of compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain staff.

7. Talent acquisition specialists ($39,200 — $58,900)

Large multinational companies are in particular need of talent acquisition professionals as the need to source top talent becomes increasingly competitive.

8. Legal counsel ($89,000 — $155,500)

Developments in FinTech, financial regulations and dispute resolution are the main drivers for the increasing demand for legal counsel professionals. Companies are looking for candidates with five to eight years of local experience.

Senior counsel was one of the most in-demand positions in 2019, with UAE companies offering in-house positions to help minimise legal advisory costs.

9. Legal assistants ($46,000 — $65,000)

Employers will be looking for bilingual legal assistants, as companies increase their compliance with international best practice standards and require drafting contracts in different languages.

10. Security analysts ($55,600 — $114,400)

Security analysts will also be in high demand to advise businesses on how to secure their data.

Updated: January 20, 2020 06:31 PM

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