The UAE employment market has an oversupply of jobseekers at the moment, but many companies are still struggling to fill certain positions, recruitment specialists told Gulf News.
In the construction sector alone, there is a shortage of highly skilled professionals with local experience in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. In particular, those with a degree in architecture, civil engineering and a post-graduate degree in finance, international business and real estate are difficult to locate.
Other sources said companies are struggling to find the right candidate for middle management roles, as well as expatriates of Asian origin. The talent crunch is expected to continue in the next six months.
Michael Gilmore, managing partner at Morgan McKinley, said that while there are hundreds of jobseekers hoping to land a new role today, companies facing skills shortage are willing to make counter offers just to retain staff that are looking to move to another company.
“It is clear that there is an oversupply of talent, however clients have far more difficulty in the recruitment process as every hire into a construction firm is crucial in this market and a weak hire can prove critical,” Gilmore told Gulf News.
“It is also evident that construction clients are looking for more specialists rather than supply, so becoming more niche in their choice of candidate. Candidates are also much more cautious on leaving their current company as there are few solid companies in the market and it becomes very difficult to predict the right move.”
The crunch is a result of a number of factors, including the fact that many experienced professionals decide to move on to other employers or neighbouring countries in the GCC who are willing to make better offers.
“UAE companies are suffering and struggling to identify the highly skilled workers as the top professionals look elsewhere.”
“The lower packages are affecting the talent crunch also, as our neighbours [like] Saudi Arabia benefit from the downturn, offering highly skilled workers higher increments to make the move, while Oman offer similar packages but much more cost-effective.”
According to Naukrigulf’s latest survey, nearly four in ten (35 per cent) of companies in the UAE are facing “maximum talent crunch when they hire for middle-management levels.” Nearly half (44 per cent) are unable to recruit the right candidates “of Asian origin”.
Within the construction industry, Gilmore said companies are struggling to hire for positions like development director, project director, director of planning and strategy and cost control professionals.
Companies prefer candidates from a renowned institute of planning, along with a degree in architecture to fill in development director roles.
For project directors, Gilmore said construction companies are “extremely specific” about what they want, “whether it’s a guy that has managed mega malls or high-rise residential” buildings. “A degree in civil [engineering is also] key,” he added.
“Director of planning and strategy is a role many clients are considering, as it’s a time companies need to be organised and put strategy in place, and this usually requires an MBA in finance, international business and real estate,” explained Gilmore, who deals with recruitment in construction and property sectors.
“Cost control is another area that is vital in this market for construction clients and this would require a civil engineering degree also.”