Up to 40 per cent of HR directors plan to recruit staff in the UAE in the first six months of 2015, with their companies set to add new positions, according to a new study.
The latest Professional Hiring Index released by recruitment consultancy Robert Half UAE was four points lower compared to the index for the previous six months.
But the report stressed that the country’s labour market is continuing to expand, despite lower oil prices and their impact on the region.
Oil prices have almost halved compared to June 2014, when they stood at $115 per barrel.
Although they have rebounded in the last few weeks to around $60 per barrel after almost touching six-year lows earlier this year, certain oil and gas companies in the region have already started cutting down on staff, sources told Gulf Business.
The index by Robert Half UAE however found that only five per cent of HR directors believe their company will reduce overall headcount during the first half of 2015.
Another nine per cent said their company plans to freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions or creating new ones.
The majority – 45 per cent – of HR directors plan to maintain hiring levels by filling vacated positions when they arise, the index found.
Gareth El Mettouri, associate director, Robert Half UAE said: “The Middle East employment market has been undergoing a shift, where international economies are strengthening and therefore competing for the most skilled international talent.
“This coupled with the instability of the price of oil may be prompting some companies to carefully consider their hiring plans for the first half of the year. However, others are taking the opportunity to augment their teams in a bid to drive profitability and growth.”
The survey also found that employee retention is a major concern with 72 per cent of HR executives concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year.
This will see pressure on employers to increase salary and benefits packages in order to retain them and is likely to drive broader wage inflation through 2015 and beyond, the report said.
Eight in 10 HR professionals also said it is a challenging environment to identify skilled professional-level employees for their organisation.
A lack of niche technical experts and increasing competition between employers were found to be major factors, with 30 per cent of respondents stating demand was outstripping supply for candidates.
The bi-annual index was based on over 75 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UAE.