Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Recruitment more selective in UAE due to low oil price, experts say

Qualifications are not enough - UAE employers are looking for people who add value and who are here for the long term.

DUBAI // Low oil prices have resulted in more selective recruiting, so jobseekers must put an emphasis on what they bring to the company, experts say.

The few employers still recruiting are looking at attracting staff who are more productive, with the candidates’ experience now more important than ever.

“Qualifications aren’t enough any more and it’s about how candidates can add value to a company,” said David Jones, chief ­executive of think-tank The Talent Enterprise.

“We’re seeing jobs that can be replaced by technology, like some areas of finance and ­accounting, which are more challenging for job hunters.”

Many companies had reduced the number of people being recruited and increased the time it takes to hire, he said. “Budgets are much tighter and many companies are operating without them for recruitment, or having only incremental budgets to get new people in,” he said.

“Having said that, tourism, hospitality and construction are continuing at pace and there the demand remains positive.”

Jordanian Lamis Herbawi, 25, from Fujairah, said she had been looking for work since graduating in 2012.

“When I first graduated from the business management department I was excited to work with my degree and had in my mind the salary that I wanted to earn, but each passing year my requirements became less until I reached a point where I’m willing to accept any position I’m offered,” she said.

“I don’t have the option of looking in other emirates because my family lives here and I prefer to stay with them.

“Hopefully new companies will open in Fujairah and provide us with better opportunities.”

Mohammed Ragab, a 33-year-old Egyptian, recently resigned from a car rental agency and said that finding a job was more difficult than he had thought.

“I resigned 60 days ago and still haven’t found a suitable job,” he said. “My aim was to find a position that suits my graduation degree, with a higher income, but I’m still searching.

“My visa will end next month and if I don’t find a job, I will be forced to go back home.”

One point jobseekers should note is that another change in the recruitment market is the type of people being employed, moving away from the so-called “mercenary expatriates”, who stay for only a short period.

“We’re seeing employers looking for candidates with a cultural alignment with the country and a longer-term commitment to the country,” Mr Jones said.

Jennifer Campori, managing director of Charterhouse Recruitment in Dubai, said the jobs market was beginning to pick up at the start of the second quarter, with a conservative increase in hiring expected over the next 12 months.

“The drop in the oil price has not had an overall impact on salaries in terms of them being lowered, although it has made employers more cautious when hiring,” she said.

“Candidates need to be proactive in their job search, everyone should be networking, checking LinkedIn and job boards for roles and, of course, using agencies to help them in their job search.”

Zack Abdi, managing director of the human resources consultancy Provectus Middle East, said construction remained an area that was recruiting.

“Towers and hotels are still being built in the UAE so the demand is there, but it’s more so for labourers than for project managers,” he said.

One area currently experiencing a shortage of qualified recruits is in environmental engineering and sustainability.

“The Government in the UAE has been stressing a real push in environment and sustainability, but the people aren’t there to recruit,” he said.

“The universities in the UAE need to do more to encourage students into these fields because, at the moment, there are just not the people there for companies to employ.”

Suhail Masri, vice-president of employer solutions at Bayt.com, said tourism, real estate, retail, information technology and banking were the top five industries, with 4,200 vacancies posted online in the first quarter of this year.

“The latest Job Index, released in February, found that four in 10 UAE working respondents expect their employers to be definitely hiring in the next three months,” Mr Masri said.

The survey of 187 people in the UAE found that companies would be most likely to hire sales managers, receptionists, accountants and civil engineers in the next three months.

“Focusing on future expectations, 73 per cent of UAE working respondents said that their companies would be hiring in a year’s time, with 34 per cent ‘definitely hiring’ and 39 per cent ‘probably hiring’,” Mr Masri said.


* Additional reporting by Ruba Haza

Updated: April 14, 2016 04:00 AM