Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
18 Jun 2012

Middle East market update from Michael Page

18 Jun 2012 • by Changeboard Team

What's the recruitment market like at the moment?

Despite a small amount of political instability and eurozone wobble, the Middle East which includes Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Levant region, remains healthy.

In the Middle East we are seeing a lot of movement in the market caused by investment from resource rich governments spending on key infrastructure projects and multinational organisations maximising on emerging market growth opportunities.

Michael Page’s Middle East operations have experienced considerable year-on-year growth across all 14 disciplines over the past two years. From office locations: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar we now have more than 40 employees with future growth and expansion plans – including a presence in Saudi Arabia.

What are your expectations for 2012?

There are a number of factors driving investment and change in the Middle East including:

  • Saudi Arabia has a population of 25 million with a growing middle class making it a major growth area with a high demands for goods and services.
  • 2022 World Cup in Qatar means an enormous amount of work is scheduled with projects likely to properly kick off after Ramadan/summer this year.
  • Following a review of its strategic plan Abu Dhabi has recently approved 14 major infrastructure projects.
  • Dubai is and will continue to be the hub for all multinationals servicing the growth of the region.

Work has spread across all areas as governments and private organisations seek to diversify the resource rich economies away from just financial services and property into additional sectors like manufacturing, technology and retail. Oil and gas also continues to motor along and underpins the combined wealth of the region as a top 10 global economy.

How sought-after are HR professionals?

HR has gone through several evolutions across over the past five years. Initially there was a big focus on recruiting best practice experience from multinational organisations outside the region to come and raise the bar locally – moving HR from an admin function to a driver of the business. Post downturn there has been a major focus from organisations looking to maximise their commercial opportunities to invest in bi-lingual capabilities.

In particular, Arabic and English speaking HR candidates who have multinational experience. The main skills in demand have been HR business partner, training, learning and development, talent acquisition and talent management. There is still opportunity for non-Arabic speakers; however to be successful they must be an expert in a specialist function from a top organisation such as a FTSE 100 or Fortune 500.

What trends are you seeing?

Attraction and retention is always a challenge in the region as it can be a transient location – it is generally accepted that employees will come and go more frequently than in developed markets.

In order to attract the best people, some local organisations will pay 20-30 per cent more for a candidate and offer allowances like full education payment for children and business class tickets return to their home country. This can make it challenging for multinational organisation to retain their best people. Over the last year, stability and long-term progression has become a major deciding factor for candidates when considering their next move as opposed to chasing the biggest package.

How can employers engage the right talent?

  • Career progression – it is competitive for top talent, if your best people don’t have a clear career path in place then it’s likely they will be approached by a search firm and leave
  • Travel packages as part of a role into different countries – getting exposure in all the Middle Eastern countries helps develop the employees understanding of the region
  • Benefits - education allowances are vital for candidates with children
  • Training in the global head quarters  – get exposure outside the region
  • Recognition of success and performance