Where next for recruitment?

Author: PM Editorial | Date: 25 Nov 2015

Experts identify four dynamic factors affecting the way GCC businesses hire

Recent surveys have shown that the recruitment market across the Middle East remains relatively buoyant, even in the face of oil price volatility and an uncertain macroeconomic outlook. While the oil and gas sector has seen hiring plummet, others such as healthcare still seem confident. But what are the broader factors that will define where recruitment goes next? People Management asked a range of experts to identify key areas:
 
Female employment
Across the Middle East as a whole, there are more female enrolments at universities, but still not one country in the region is ranked within the top 100 in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report.
 
“Authorities in the UAE actively encourage female participation in the workforce and lead by example, such as with the recent appointment of the very first female speaker of the FNC,” says Barbara Van Meir, partner at Boyden Middle East and North Africa.
 
“Anecdotal evidence from banks – who work very hard to hire equal number of male and female graduates – seems to indicate that the drop-out rate at junior levels is much higher for males. Yet at senior levels, we have not seen a significant increase in female leaders. But there is a positive trend in that most employers are now increasingly open to, and in some cases would welcome, female candidates for senior roles.”
 
Nationalisation
GCC nationalisation laws have for a long time dictated that certain jobs should go to nationals rather than foreigners. Yet despite this, almost 70 per cent of the local population under 30 are unemployed within the GCC as a whole, according to the Arab World Learning Barometer Report 2014, and nationals of GCC countries have landed fewer than two million of the seven million new jobs created over the past 10 years.
 
“Nationalisation definitely slows down the recruitment process as potential employers try to find suitable nationals to fill the position before hiring an expat,” says Gabrielle Robinson, partner at Boyden Middle East and North Africa. “It also increases the cost to the company due to the high expectations of nationals in the UAE and Qatar.
 
“There continues to be a wider problem of national participation in the private sector – many are attracted to the public sector because of working hours and financial benefits.” “In financial services, where the banks have had to work with a quota system for many years now, the effects of the nationalisation policy are becoming increasingly visible in rapidly rising remuneration for nationals at all levels, and with generous incentives such as on-the-job MBA or CFA programmes particularly at graduate level,” says Van Weir. “Banks also struggle with a lack of candidates, especially at middle management level.”
 
Technology and digital advancements
“The role of the chief digital officer has been growing in importance over the last decade,” says Robinson. “In 2005, the first CDO was appointed globally and in 2013 there were only 488 worldwide, mainly in the USA.
 
“We are starting to have discussions with clients about digital transformation and the need to hire CDOs and chief security officers. Of course, it will take time and effort to educate the local and regional market for this and its likely to start in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and then the rest of the region. They know it’s coming and they can’t dodge it, but I’m not sure they have finalised the plan to adopt it properly.
 
“Talent for these roles will most likely come from outside of the region – the challenge will be attracting and retaining that talent, and convincing them that the region can offer comparable careers in this space to other geographical territories.”
 
Health insurance
UAE law states that employers must pay for private healthcare for all employees. “This is more of an issue for employers with big headcounts, mainly at the blue collar level,” says Robinson. “White collar staff have always had medical insurance paid for directly by the employer or claimed by the employee.”