Revealed: Most in-demand roles in the UAE with predicted salaries for 2020

Up to 82 per cent of UAE business leaders find it challenging to employ relevant talent, finds study



Businesses in the UAE – particularly SMEs – are looking to expand their teams despite increasing digitalisation in the market, a new report has found.

Up to 82 per cent of UAE business leaders find it challenging to employ relevant talent, according to 2020 Salary Guide issued by recruitment firm Robert Half.

“Employers are taking stock of the situation by benchmarking salaries and offering workplace incentives such flexible working options and on-job training,” it said.

The report identified the top three most in-demand roles across sectors including accounting and finance, financial services, information technology, legal, human resources and administration alongside their predicted starting salaries for 2020.

Accounting and finance

Although multinational corporations are focused on filling vacancies rather than creating new roles, headcount is expected to increase in 2020, the report stated. Demand for financial planning and analysis roles has risen, with 39 per cent of business leaders “struggling” to find qualified talent.

Top three most in-demand roles 

Job rolePredicted starting salaries in 2020
Chief Financial Officer (large company)$228,900 – $450,450
Finance Director (large company)$178,000 – $312,900
Financial Planning and Analyst Director (large company)$154,500 – $217,800

Financial services

When hiring for senior finance roles, businesses are seeking candidates with commercial skills in finance leadership and experience in developed markets. A number of new roles have emerged in finance such as business analysts, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems specialists, risk managers and financial advisers, the report found.

Top three most in-demand roles 

Job rolePredicted starting salaries in 2020
Chief Risk Officer$294,300 – $490,500
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)$277,900 – $457,800
Head of Compliance$153,700 – $327,000

Technology

With data and digital transformation emerging as businesses’ top priorities for 2020,  the UAE technology hiring market has become extremely competitive. “Employers are strengthening their appeal to overseas talent by offering relocation assistance and cost-of-living support, as well as constantly benchmarking salaries for fast-changing roles,” the report stated.

Top three most in-demand roles 

Job rolePredicted starting salaries in 2020
Chief Digital Officer$170,800 – $261,600
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)$155,300 – £277,900
Project/Programme Manager$91,600 – $138,100

HR and administration

HR teams are now being considered “integral to the process of digital transformation”, and 25 per cent of CFOs believe that competition for HR and administration professionals with soft skills in change management will rise over the next three years.

Top three most in-demand roles in human resources and administration 

Job rolePredicted starting salaries in 2020
Head of Recruitment$126,500 – $147,100
HR Manager/HR Business Partner$65,400 – $98,000
Personal Assistant$49,000 – $65,400

Legal

UAE legal departments are adapting to the changes of financial regulations, FinTech and dispute regulations, and bilingual candidates with more than five years’ experience are in-high demand.

Top three most in-demand roles

Job rolePredicted starting salaries in 2020
Head of Legal$260,000 – $425,000
Senior Legal Counsel$163,500 – $220,500
Legal Associate$80,500 – $175,000

“Employers need to consider the broader remuneration packages they offer to their chosen candidates, who increasingly see perks like flexible working and extended annual leave as must-haves, not just nice-to-haves,” said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half UAE.

“Our research finds that one in five businesses don’t think they offer enough unique perks and benefits compared with competitors – and rightly believe this is putting them at a disadvantage.”

He added: “A recent series of new government initiatives will increase the appeal of the UAE for expats, expanding the pool of experienced candidates in the region. Among the business leaders that we speak to, optimism is high for the year to come with major events like Dubai Expo 2020 helping to stimulate new business growth.”