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Job seekers increasingly active in quarter one, finds Morgan McKinley UAE

Morgan McKinley UAE has released its Employment Monitor for Q1 2016, which shows a challenging start to the year and a tough quarter. 


 “It was a more challenging start to the year than usual,” commented Trefor Murphy, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Morgan McKinley. “The general feeling is that it’s a tough market out there, but then again, it’s a tough market everywhere at the moment.”


The monitor found that its banking & financial services clients have decreased hiring levels as the knock-on effect of the protracted weakness in commodity prices. Morgan McKinley says that the oil and gas industry is still feeling the pain, as was to be expected. Overall redundancies have been on the increase, however, with the bottoming out of the oil price, redundancies in this sector have started to slow down. Many of the oil and gas industry workers who have been laid off have remained in the region with the hope of the market picking up or of being able to shift careers, according to the company. With the general weakness in the jobs market these candidates are having a tough time transitioning into a new career.


“When the price of a barrel of oil goes from USD 125 to USD 35 the economy will inevitably have difficulties,” said Murphy. “Ironically though, the market is still busy, finding the specific talent is the challenge at the moment.” 


The government is introducing taxes for the first time in the form of a 5% value added tax (VAT). This should, Morgan McKinley believes, bring much needed revenue to the government coffers, support new infrastructure building projects and act as a buffer to the economy, this change will not come in to effect for another 16 months.


Murphy added, “Although the market is not going at full throttle, there is still a general air of optimism with employers using this period to drive organisational efficiencies. We see this in the increased use of consultants and fixed term projects.”


As there are no temporary or interim job opportunities in the UAE, organisations who do need temporary capabilities set them up as projects and this means work for consultants.


Murphy said, “Consultants and consultancy firms are being used more across the board. The big four and management consultancy firms are definitely busier.


“There are situations where firms are letting people go and at the same time kicking off consultancy projects as skills requirements change.”


Organisations are using this lull in the economy to start new property and construction projects. The government is also more open to new projects, specifically those that support the country’s infrastructure, as it expects more tax revenue from the new VAT to pay for them.


Despite the slowdown in jobs and increased number of job seekers, there are opportunities for certain types of candidates, particularly those who are mid-career will have the necessary depth of experience that employers require.


“The challenge is to find those high-end candidates,” commented Murphy. “Those job seekers who can show a solid professional track record are the ones who employers are after.”


Morgan McKinley highlighted that this year the month of Ramadan will begin in the end of the second quarter. This tends to somewhat dent productivity and it is likely to mean a slowdown towards the end of Q2. While the employment market is going through a period of headwinds there still remains appetite to hire key people. Project type of work will likely to continue.


Murphy concluded, “From a recruiting point of view it’s all about the right talent and a specific skill set. Those candidates who employers are interested know their value and are reluctant to move.”

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