UAE, Gulf job prospects set to improve as more businesses head back into pre-COVID-19 mode: Hays report

Dubai: Here’s a huge positive for job prospects in the UAE and Gulf – more than half of businesses now say they have recovered from the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

Plus, another 28 per cent of businesses polled they expect to get back into pre-COVID-19 groove in the next 12 months. That adds up to nearly 80 per cent of businesses reckoning they are “back on their feet, if not growing by 2022”, according to a report by the management consultancy Hays.

This could translate into better prospects for new work and employment – “Opportunities have been increasing significantly since the end of last year and sentiment is generally very positive,” says Kieran Fitzgerald, Senior Operations Director of Hays Middle East.

“Our own experiences of working with employers and job seekers certainly confirm that business activity is on an upward trajectory,” said Fitzgerald. “We saw job numbers decline across all sectors in the region from April through to late summer of 2020.”

Salaries too feel the pull

For now, 58 per cent of employers have the same or higher than their pre-pandemic workforce numbers. But 74 per cent state they are expecting headcount increases as early as the second-half of this year.

On the salary side of things, there is talk and hope of gradual improvements. The Hays report finds 71 per cent of professionals saying their salary is either the same or higher than before the pandemic, while 39 per cent of employers expect salaries within their organisation to increase before the end of the year.

“These statistics are a clear sign that market confidence is returning, if not exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels locally," said Fitzgerald. "While there remains a proportion of the population who are battling the negative repercussions of the pandemic, the outlook is largely optimistic.

"From what we have seen in the market and based on those employers intentions stated in the survey, we expect salary trends to be much the same as they have been regionally for a number of years, whereby more than half of all professionals salaries will remain the same year-on-year - and up to 40 per cent will increase on prior year.”

More ways to working
Sure, work-from-home and retention of hybrid working will remain part of the scenery for more time to come. The Hays survey found 69% of organisations offering remote working options, compared to 43% who did so at the start of 2020. The most common option is complete flexibility to work-from-home, as offered by 38% of employers. This is followed by 2-3 days a week of remote working, offered at 18% of organisations. From an employer perspective, findings show that remote working is influential in attracting and retaining talent, with 42% of working professionals saying remote work is an important factor when considering an employer. Of those employers who took part in the survey, 2% have closed their offices altogether in the last year, 11% downsized and a further 13% intend to do the same by the end of the year.


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