Voice of the profession - Middle East

01 January 2015
Published: January 2015
In autumn 2014, the CIPD commissioned research into the current state of the HR and L&D profession across the Middle East. We surveyed a cross-section of CIPD members and non-members throughout the region, encompassing all levels of seniority and specialisms of HR and L&D.
More than 1,000 people completed the survey in just three weeks. The data paints a clear picture of what’s important to HR and L&D professionals – and how the CIPD can support individuals, organisations and governments to raise HR professionalism and capability across the region in the years ahead.
Top HR priorities
We asked directors/senior executives and those in manager roles to identify the top three HR priorities for their organisations. Across the whole region, recruitment and selection emerges as the top priority – although the number one issue in Bahrain is learning and development. Talent planning and management is the second highest priority, while performance management is joint third.
When asked what kinds of professional support they most need to address these kinds of priorities, directors/senior executives and managers alike say they need more access to:
  • international best practice insights and guidance, case studies and benchmarking
  • local research and independent guidance with relevant context from the region
  • professional qualifications and training which are tailored to reflect region-specific practices and culture.
HR strategy alignment and outsourcing
Three in four directors/senior executives and almost two thirds of managers believe that their current HR strategy is well aligned with their organisation’s overall business strategy.
HR-related legislation and policy
The highest-priority HR-related policy issue for directors/senior executives in the region is nationalisation. Meanwhile, HR/L&D managers perceive diversity and equal opportunities as the key policy priority.
Specialist topics
For the survey participants not in director/senior executive roles, the specific research areas of greatest interest were cited as talent planning and management, followed by organisation development and performance management. For directors/senior executives, talent planning and management is also the area of greatest interest, although leadership development/executive coaching is rated the second most interesting topic of interest.
Where events for HR/L&D professionals are held in the region, respondents said they’d get most value from those focused on case studies and best practice examples that are directly relevant to the Middle East. HR/L&D professionals would also like events focused on employment law updates for the region and news about the profession which is specific to the Middle East.
Website information
When it comes to information resources available online, HR/L&D professionals in the region say their key need is for more regional employment law information, followed by relevant regional research and information about events/opportunities for networking in the region.
Licensed HR profession
Directors/senior executives and managers working in the region are strongly in favour of HR becoming a ‘licensed’ profession.
Professional body membership
Most directors/senior executives and managers feel that it’s important for HR/L&D professionals in their organisation to be members of an international professional body for HR, so they can keep up to date with best practice, global standards and relevant insight. Despite this widely held view, 60% work in firms where fewer than half the HR/L&D workforce are members of a professional body for HR, while just 22% say that more than half their HR function hold a professional membership of this kind.
HR competency models
Across the region, two in five organisations have an HR/L&D technical competency framework in place. In the majority of cases, frameworks have been developed in-house or using an external consultant.
Continuing professional development
When it comes to their own personal current professional status, two in three HR/L&D practitioners in the Middle East say their continuing professional development (CPD) plan is both in place and on track for the coming 12-month period.
HR qualifications are mandatory for specific roles in one in three organisations across the region. The extent to which this is the case varies from a high of 46% in Bahrain to 24% in Qatar.
Sixty per cent of directors/senior executives and managers in the Middle East are happy for qualifications to be delivered in English, but 28% would like to see delivery in both English and Arabic.
Over the next three years, two in five employers are expected to spend US$5,000 or more per person per annum on formal HR/L&D qualifications for employees in the function.
HR skills gaps
Across the region, directors/senior executives and managers identify business acumen as the area where HR/L&D people have the greatest skills gap. There are also significant gaps in talent planning/management skills as well as skills associated with the design and execution of HR strategy.
Training channels
Employers in the region use a mix of approaches to train and develop HR/L&D professionals. The most frequent route is via in-house training. External training providers are also relatively widely used, and organisations also make use of professional qualifications as part of their development strategy.
Training mix
Face-to-face sessions are seen as the training format that works best for the region, with half also saying a mix of face-to-face and online teaching works for their organisation. While 59% are content for short training courses to be delivered in English only, 38% say a mix of English and Arabic better meets the needs of their organisation.
Download the full report below
Voice of the profession - Middle East - Infographic