The United Arab Emirates’ employment market shrunk in the first quarter of the year in line with slowing economic growth, a new report has found.
The number of jobs on offer decreased by 9 per cent in Q1 to 7,212 compared with 7,899 in Q4 2015, the report by Morgan McKinley found. The drop was more pronounced on a year-on-year basis at 12 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of professionals seeking jobs increased by 31 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 22 per cent year-on-year to 4,982.
In particular, an influx of oil and gas workers into the market has increased jobseeker numbers, the report said.
“It was a more challenging start to the year than usual,” said managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Morgan McKinley Trefor Murphy.
“The general feeling is that it’s a tough market out there, but then again, it’s a tough market everywhere at the moment.”
According to him, banking and financial services companies have decreased hiring levels because of the knock-on effect of the protracted weakness in commodity prices.
“The oil and gas industry is still feeling the pain, as was to be expected. Overall redundancies have been on the increase, however with the bottoming out of the oil price, redundancies in this sector have started to slow down,” he said.
Many of the oil and gas industry workers who have been laid off have remained in the region in the hope of being able to shift careers, the report claimed. These candidates are now having a tough time transitioning into a new career.
“When the price of a barrel of oil goes from $125 to $35 the economy will inevitably have difficulties. Ironically though, the market is still busy – finding specific talent is the challenge at the moment,” said Murphy.
“Although the market is not going at full throttle, there is still a general air of optimism with employers using this period to drive organisational efficiencies. We see this in the increased use of consultants and fixed term projects,” he added.
Consultants and consultancy firms are now “definitely busier,” the report said. Also, there are opportunities for certain types of candidates, particularly those who are on a mid-career level.
“Those job seekers who can show a solid professional track record are the ones who employers are after,” said Murphy.
Looking ahead, the next few months will remain challenging since the month of Ramadan will begin in the end of the second quarter.
“From a recruiting point of view it’s all about the right talent and a specific skill set. Those candidates who employers are interested know their value and are reluctant to move,” he added.