UAE demand for consultants rises – despite increases in redundancies

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 01 Jun 2016

Organisations are letting people go at the same time as setting up projects requiring temporary expertise

Consultants in the UAE are in popular demand, despite an increase in the number of redundancies.

The number of professionals in the country seeking jobs increased by 31 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 49,820, according to research by Morgan McKinley.

Legislation prevents temporary or interim work, but organisations that require temporary expertise are setting up one-off projects and hiring consultants. Morgan McKinley reports that the demand for consultants was much stronger in the first quarter of 2016 than expected and that the trend is expected to continue for the rest of the year.

“Consultants and consultancy firms are being used more across the board. The big four [PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG] and management consultancy firms are definitely busier,” says Trefor Murphy, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Morgan McKinley. “There are situations where firms are letting people go and at the same time kicking off consultancy projects as skills requirements change.”

There's further proof that the job market has slowed, as the number of jobs on offer decreased by nine per cent in Q1 of 2016, compared to Q4 of 2015. In addition, the influx of oil and gas workers into the jobseekers' market has contributed to the number of professional jobseekers in the UAE increasing by 22 per cent between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016.

Research by GulfTalent also confirmed that the number of organisations making job cuts is increasing – though most cuts are to be in Saudi Arabia's private sector.

The slowdown in recruitment activity is due to employers becoming “much more cautious in adding to their payroll,” said the GulfTalent report. “Much of the recruitment activity is now focused on replacement hiring only.”

High-end candidates with solid professional track records will still be in demand. “From a recruiting point of view it’s all about the right talent and a specific skill set. Those candidates who employers are interested in know their value and are reluctant to move,” Murphy concludes.

However, foreigners, rather than locals, are losing their jobs, as organisations try to limit local unemployment amongst GCC nationals – resulting in a far more competitive job market for professional expatriates.

Despite the slowdown, a report, which published the opinions of UAE residents, said that more than half believe the UAE economy is more resilient than other oil-dependent Middle-Eastern economies.