MEP Recruitment outlook 2017

James Mowat, international manager of Energi People, shares his insights about the MEP jobs market in the GCC for 2017

James Mowat, international manager, Energi People.
James Mowat, international manager, Energi People.

Upcoming mega events like Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are expected to be a boon for the construction sector. More contracts will be out to tender as the clock ticks towards these two dates and this will lead to new job opportunities for MEP professionals. Beyond these two showpieces, what happens with oil price (with OPEC having recently agreed to cut production) will continue to play a major role in the outlook of GCC economies.

Supply and demand

The existing supply and demand for the recruitment of MEP engineers during 2016 has mainly been within the region, with few employers looking to recruit externally. Many companies have been forced to run a rather tight ship due to payment problems and a lack of major projects across the market forcing budgets to be squeezed ever more tightly. Employers need candidates who are able to hit the ground running and have knowledge of the local market, regulations, codes and standards. This has been more and more common, especially in the UAE, which now has a huge talent pool of engineers, many of which have been in the region for more than 10 years now.

The next 12 months

After a very tough year for the industry and various regional leaders releasing large numbers of staff due to a large dip in oil prices, the market seems to be moving in the right direction across the UAE and Qatar, with various major projects being awarded in the last six to 12 weeks.

When speaking with a regional MEP director of a top international consultancy about the outlook for 2017, he told Energi People: “The main works over the next year are for Expo 2020 in Dubai. Most projects are under design and will go for construction next year. Other large projects are Dubai World Central airport work and Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai Hills and Dubai South. Abu Dhabi is ticking over but we can only see Masdar and Yas Island as the main projects.”

As for whether Saudi Arabia will take off again, it all depends on oil prices. Oman and Kuwait also look to be showing signs of stable growth and should continue to grow.

Skills gap

An MEP director for a Dubai-based multidisciplinary consultancy had this to say to Energi People about existing skills gaps in the market. He said: “High quality PH/fire engineers are always a challenge to find and I think highly-skilled BIM coordinators/design managers will be at an increasing premium as more firms understand the challenges of BIM.”

MEP quantity surveyors and design engineers that have stayed purely on the technical side (not gone into operations/business development) are always hard to come by. I can see there being a demand for employers to again look externally in regions such as Europe to attract talent due to the shortage and associated demand when the market really starts picking up again.

Salary expectations

The GCC’s tax free benefits, lifestyle and huge projects will always be a lure to the industry’s top global talent and the table on the left is an indication of the current salaries in the region. More than half of respondents to Construction Week’s 2016 Salary Survey expect to change jobs during the next 12 months. Of the 52% of participants who are looking to move, 83% expect to remain in the GCC region.

Full of Energi

We have established ourselves as regional market leaders in the MEP industry. We constantly support the industry in every way we can in order to ensure we are a long-term partner to every business and more than just another recruitment company.

Our ever growing presence in the region is due to our staff regularly visiting the UAE and Doha to stay in touch with the local market. We want to ensure we only give the most accurate, up-to-date information and advice to candidates and our clients alike.

Energi People has sponsored the MEP Middle East Awards for the past two years and also sponsored CIBSE UAE’s first annual dinner last April in Dubai. Being a preferred recruitment partner, we feel it is absolutely essential for us to be involved in these events in order to stay at the forefront of the industry.

We excel in assisting jobseekers in either establishing themselves within the GCC for their first overseas role, or assisting employees at all levels to advance their career locally within the region.

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