Sunday, August 09, 2009

Life returns to Gulf job market with more new vacancies

The Gulf job market is showing the first signs of recovery after being battered by months of redundancies, according to one of the region’s biggest employment sites.

Employers in the construction, finance and hospitality sectors are starting to hire again with the number of job listings posted on the Monster Gulf website rising by 18 per cent in June compared with a month earlier.

“If you look at the job postings, it clearly indicates the market is recovering,” said Sanjay Modi, the managing director for India, Middle East and South East Asia of Monster Gulf, part of the world’s largest online recruitment site.

“The up trend is clearly visible since the last three months. Job postings in the construction sector in the UAE alone have risen by 20 per cent, while there has been a 13 per cent increase in the job listings posted by construction contractors in Saudi Arabia in June.”

The regional hospitality and banking and finance sectors saw 8 per cent and 5 per cent rises in the number of job listings respectively, data from Monster Gulf shows.

Gulf employers have shed thousands of jobs this year as the global downturn ended a regional economic boom that drew expatriate workers from around the globe.

The UAE has attracted large numbers of foreign workers needed for a six-year property boom that came to a halt last autumn when house prices tumbled and many people were forced to flee the country leaving unpaid bills.

The International Labour Organisation expects this year to be the worst year on record for job creation, unemployment growing by as much as 59 million people for a global unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent.

Despite the gloomy outlook, evidence is emerging that the worst may be over for many companies around the world that have been forced to downsize this year in response to the global recession.

The pace of job losses in the US slowed last month, as the unemployment rate dropped for the first time since April last year. Payrolls fell by about 247,000 last month after a 443,000 decline in June, the US labour department reported on Friday. Unemployment in Canada remained flat last month while the number of French jobseekers also fell during the month.

Monster Gulf is also optimistic about employment trends throughout the Gulf region this year.

“The good thing is that the majority of listings are of middle-to-senior management positions with six to 10 years’ experience,” Mr Modi says. “This solidifies our belief that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Financial institutions and private equity firms in the region have started to show signs of recovery after three difficult quarters. Headhunters in May said the industry had started to hire again, although financial professionals are reportedly having to accept salaries up to 30 per cent lower than they may have commanded six months ago.

Monster Gulf expects the UAE job market to remain stable over the next eight to 10 months, with positive movement in sectors such as retail, health care, education and renewable energy.

“We are already in discussion with at least eight energy firms in the region who are very keen to hire talent in renewable energy,” said Mr Modi. “Jobseekers were in the driving seat but it’s now the employers who are in control.”

skhan@thenational.ae

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