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Five minutes with Paul Waters, Ignite recruitment

Paul Waters, managing director for Ignite talks to CW about the challenges in the construction recruitment that the GCC market poses

Paul Waters, managing director for Ignite.
Paul Waters, managing director for Ignite.

Could you give an overview of Ignite, when was it started, what do you specialise in?

We are a specialist construction and property recruitment consultancy, started in 2010. We are experts in the Middle East market which we service from our offices in the UAE and UK. Our consultants operate in a niche market making them experts in their sector. We pride ourselves on recruiting construction and property staff of all levels and disciplines.

What challenges do you face when it comes to recruiting construction staff?

We face two main challenges at the moment. Firstly, the client needs to be more flexible about recruiting from outside of the local market. There is a shortage of available staff on the ground in the Middle East compared to the years following the economic crash of 2008. Previously, if a client wanted to recruit a project manager or a site engineer, they could easily find someone available in local market or hire someone from one of their competitors who has been made redundant. But over the years, especially now, volume of staff on the ground here have become much thinner. We are asking our clients more and more to look at candidates in other countries and relocating them.

The other challenge that we face in the market is candidates receiving counter offers. For example, when a candidates accepts an offer from a client, the candidate then submits their resignation to their current company, however the candidate is talked into stating with the current employer as they don’t want to loose them.
This year, we have seen more counter offers then ever before. With most companies having a good volume of work and a shortage of people in the local market it makes sense to try and hold onto their existing staff as it is difficult to find someone new.

Does the nationalisation schemes hurt your recruitment procedure?

Emiratisation has not been a large part of our business. We recruit across several different sectors within the construction industry such as developers, project management companies and contractors and we only really come across Emiratisation with developers. In this sector there is a large demand for Emirati staff and its difficult to find candidates. To be honest, this is a small percentage of the recruitment we do, so it does not make much of a difference to our recruitment procedures.

Have you observed a slowdown in the recruitment for real estate and construction?

Certainly not; this year has probably been our best year since the financial crash of 2008-09. We normally notice a bit of a slowdown during the Ramadan period, recently there has been a bit of a slowdown in the Qatar market due to the low oil prices. In general we are quite positive about the market in terms of recruitment with most of our clients actively recruiting.

How different it is to recruit for the UAE and the Qatar market?

The main difference between recruiting for staff in the UAE and Qatar is in Qatar it is very difficult to recruit from their local market as most companies in Qatar don’t issue NOC’s. The candidates are therefore unable to switch employers for fear of an impending ban.
This means clients in Qatar are more open to recruiting from their surrounding GCC countries or from outside of the Middle East. In the UAE the clients generally want to hire someone already in the UAE as there is not a problem with candidates getting NOC’s and bans.


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