UAE jobs market: Little sign of slowdown, says Monster.com boss

Salary freezes and cutbacks in benefits are kicking in for some expatriate employees in the UAE as corporations tighten belts.

But while some sectors are experiencing a slowdown in recruitment because of the oil price fluctuations, infrastructure development is helping others lead the jobs market. Sanjay Modi, the managing director at jobs portal Monster.com for India, the Middle East, South East Asia and Hong Kong, says companies in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf will show a growth in the number of vacancies along with their overall economic growth. Here he expands on the employment outlook for the UAE:

Are new job roles still being created?


We are not sensing a slowdown in respect to last year. In our last data from July, there was an increase of 37 per cent year-on-year in the number of jobs being advertised across 12 industry sectors and 11 occupations. The growth is robust because it is not skewed [by] a couple of industry sectors. In the UAE, eight out of 12 industry sectors are showing growth, led by IT and telecoms jobs, for July. That is because of the government initiatives and investments in the infrastructure, technology and education sectors. It is a good destination for tourism, and so hospitality is showing a positive growth. Monster.com does not capture the difference between vacancies advertised for replacement positions and new positions, but from our experience there are new jobs being created and because of attrition challenges there are replacement positions also. If it was pure replacement jobs, which normally happens at a later stage, the first thing that happens is entry-level jobs being curtailed, which we are not seeing.

What sectors are experiencing a slowdown or a hiring freeze?

Apart from oil and gas, we do not see a slowdown in the sectors for recruitment. The slowdown in the oil and gas sector is because of global ramifications, and some organisations are going for a hiring freeze. This phenomenon started six to eight months back, and we expect this trend to continue from a short- to medium- term perspective.

What does the new Monster Employment Index (MEI) UAE report say? MEI measures the number of jobs being posted online at Monster.com.

The August data for the MEI will be out in a few days, but we expect the growth momentum to continue and it will be positive growth year on year. Month-on-month, there is sequential growth in the number of jobs advertised until June. There is a slight drop in July, but we think it is because of Ramadan and the summer. The numbers show an increase compared to July last year.

How are salaries and benefits faring?

We don’t capture the change in salaries and benefits, but our take after speaking to employees is that salaries are not the limiting factor when it comes to recruitment, as companies will hire the talent they require. We expect salaries will continue to show a decent growth. It may not be too much on the fixed-component side but on the overall compensation side [such as annual and performance-linked bonuses] I think it will move up.

What is the effect of an increase in UAE petrol prices and the possible introduction of a value-added tax and corporate tax on the employment landscape?

There are some fears around VAT that are unfounded. In a free-market scenario, we might find the absolute price remains the same and companies will reduce on margins. Companies will absorb the VAT as market forces come into play. When it comes to corporate tax, [it is not a hindrance] given the UAE’s excellent infrastructure, security and safety. The UAE will continue to attract companies. It is a good step forward, as companies will evaluate where they can reduce costs and run the business profitably and keep growing. They could cut down on supply-chain inefficiencies or those on the shop floor. There has been a seismic shift from capital investment to intellectual capital. The ability to attract and retain good talent is what differentiates companies. I don’t think companies are going to look at reducing costs by reducing manpower. On the contrary, if the business is growing, they might think of adding people to fuel growth.

What about Monster.com. Will it continue to hire?

We have been operating in the region for 10 years and will continue to invest in people and products. We have 15 people at our office in Dubai, which we opened in 2010, and eight people in the one in Riyadh, which we opened in 2011.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

Share This Post