Profits and people

Mixed sentiment in Qatar jobs market around potential pay increases

Job seekers appear more confident going into 2015.
Job seekers appear more confident going into 2015.

While the hype around construction projects has many potential job hunters reaching for his or her CV, speaking for Robert Walters Middle East, Jason Grundy, head of Middle East, was upbeat about the state of the job market.

“With the pervading ‘feel good’ factors influencing the market, from general improvements in the global economy, to winning the 2022 World Cup and continuing high oil prices, the expectation of Middle East candidates are that basic salaries and housing benefits should go up.”

He commented on a particular spike in job searches, specifically within the finance/legal sectors, technical sales and marketing. Vacancies for roles that influence profitability are on the increase, with emphasis on technical sales and commercial roles.

“Basically people who directly contribute to the bottom line. A lot of candidates have a positive outlook on their career prospects at the moment, whereas the same could not be said 20 months back,” he pointed out and added, “and, with the increasing number of large infrastructure projects coming on line, project teams are staffing up to cope with the growing demand.”

This sentiment is echoed by spokesperson, Suhail Masri, vice president of sales: “The prospective for 2015 is very bright. We have seen a regional increase in terms of the numbers of employment opportunities, and this is a good indicator of growth and development.”

This has resulted in a larger choice for job seekers, “and with choice comes competition and expectation — and where there is more choice, salaries start to climb,” Grundy added.

According to the *’s Middle East and North Africa Salary Survey, May 2014, the majority of respondents (45%) received up to 15% increase in salary last year. When asked about salary expectations for the coming year, 37% respondents expected a raise of up to 15%, while 14% expected more than 15%.

Masri said that it looks as though the trend might continue in 2015, owing to events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, the World Cup in Qatar, and an active environment in construction and development.

“It seems as though salary expectations and forecast are more or less the same for this year and last year. In the last wave of the survey, 33% respondents expected a raise of up to 15%, while 17% expected more than 15%,” he added.

Employers seem to be confident, especially when it comes to hiring new employees and according to the survey, the job market is opening up, with 70% employers hiring in a year’s time.

Tom Loseby, managing consultant, Charterhouse, Middle East, also appeared optimistic about the job market and said: “If we look at data that has been released in the press over the last few days, we can expect increases anywhere from 1% to 5%. We have certainly seen salaries increase in the second half of 2014 by at least 5% which is higher than anticipated.” He forsees the hospitality, construction and retail industries experiencing the most growth and as such, salaries will continue to rise.

“The influx of new people to the region can already be felt across the UAE and Qatar, which means more traffic, potentially higher rents and certainly more competition for new jobs. Competition is always a healthy thing!” he added.

On the other hand, according to Ben Hearst, recruitment manager for property and construction, Reed Global Recruitment Specialists, the employment pool in the UAE region appears to be too small. He commented that there are too many applicant in too small a pond, with the result that “clients are not willing to pay, so, in my experience, there is no chance of increases, come 2015,” he said candidly.

To his mind, this is owing to “the lack of business-critical projects” in the region.

He explained: “There are lots of large, ongoing projects, in which the main contractors and consultancies can move staff around; but despite the frequent mention of new projects ear-marked for shopping malls etc, in reality, very little is being awarded. Most of my clients are occupied with tendering for new projects, which, until they roll out, do not require new staff. The market is in transition, with clients who view it as a ‘buyer’s market’, so increases are not part of the reality.”

According to a survey from Aon Hewitt, Qatari companies can look forward to an average salary increase of 5.2%. While this is a more conservative estimate, slightly down from forecasts made in 2014 and 2013, which was 5.6% for both years, according to Qatar National Bank, as a fast growing economy with a rapidly increasing population, Qatar’s real GDP growth will accelerate from 6.8% in 2014 to 7.8% in 2016.

The survey said that across the GCC, companies are predicting an average figure slightly down from predictions made for 2014, which was set at 5.5%, to a salary increase of 5.1% for 2015.

Amongst GCC countries, according to Bayt’s survey, Oman offers the highest salary projection, with 44% job seekers expecting a salary increase of up to 15% and, 14% job seekers expecting a salary increase of over 13% in 2014. And the lowest is Bahrain, with 34% respondents expecting an increase in salary of up to 15% and 10% expecting above 15% in 2014. As they say, only time will tell.

*Data for the Middle East and North Africa Salary Survey (May 2014) was collected online from 20th April to 28th April, 2014. Results are reported on a base of 9,537 respondents in the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.

The year that was:
The 2014 edition of ‘Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf’, released by GulfTalent, (based on an online survey of 800 employers and 34,000 professionals) stated that Saudi Arabia was the leader in job creation in 2013, with 62% of companies increasing their headcount last year. The Kingdom was followed by the UAE and Kuwait.

It also predicted that Oman would lead the field this year, with employees expected to enjoy an average pay increase of 8%. Saudi Arabia had the second highest rate with a projected average increase of 6.8 %, followed by Qatar at 6.7% and the UAE at 5.9%. At the time of going to print, the company’s projections for next year were not available.

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