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29 February 2024

More firms in GCC to recruit staff this year

More firms in GCC to recruit staff this year. (REUTERS)

By Shuchita Kapur

A vast majority of employers in the UAE and GCC are significantly more positive about hiring and the business environment as compared to the same period last year, says a corporate survey conducted by BAC Middle East.

The survey, sent exclusively to Emirates Business, reveals that attitudes towards the business environment were positive overall. A majority (59 per cent) of respondents described themselves as "fairly optimistic" about the year ahead, with 31 per cent and five per cent describing themselves as "optimistic" and" "very optimistic", respectively. This is a significant change from last year's survey in which pessimism was more commonly reported than optimism.

"The generally positive sentiments were expressed across almost all industries and there was no single sector that stood out in terms of hiring. The main exceptions were some real estate developers and firms in the construction and construction materials sectors, that were relatively more negative in their outlook," Siobhan O'Reilly, Recruitment Manager at BAC Middle East told this newspaper.

In terms of the outlook for employment, 54 per cent said they expected their organisation to do some hiring this year, up from 37 per cent in 2009, while 35 per cent indicated that they would "possibly" recruit in 2010. Only 11 per cent of respondents ruled out any hiring in the next 12 months, which is a significant reduction from 27 per cent last year.

The survey showed that there was no clear distinction between local and multi-national companies when it came to hiring expectations. "There is no clear split between local companies and multinationals in terms of their responses. However, our experience has been that local companies have been slightly more cautious in recent hiring than international firms," added Reilly.

The gradual return of employer confidence was also indicated by 52 per cent of respondents who anticipate an increase in their local staffing levels in the year ahead, up from 36 per cent in early 2009. Only six per cent of surveyed companies predicted a reduction in their staffing levels, down from nine per cent last year.

Despite more positive sentiment amongst employers, they expect the market to remain heavily client-driven and are even more confident than last year regarding the balance of power in the labour market. Only 23 per cent of those surveyed expect skills shortages in 2010, down from 32 per cent last year while two-thirds expect the balance to shift even further in favour of employers.

As a result, 76 per cent of respondents expect "no significant change" in general salary levels over the coming year, with only 21 per cent anticipating any increases.

"The extent of salary increases will depend a lot on how rapidly the region returns to growth, particularly in the non-oil sector. If recovery is as gradual as many economic forecasters predict, then we would not anticipate salary increases of more than five per cent this year, especially if inflation stays low. If growth turns out to be more rapid than generally predicted, this could result in more competition for talent and more upward pressure on salaries," Reilly explained.

"In terms of skills sets, those with a proven record of business development and revenue generation within the region will continue to be in demand," she added.


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