GCC construction's top five job search trends
ConstructionWeekOnline rounds up the top trends that have dominated employer and employee activities in the GCC over the last 12 months
Factors such as skills shortages and fewer job openings have had an impact on the GCC's employment market in the last 12 months.
This June, construction consultancy Turner & Townsend revealed the findings of an international survey covering the construction sectors of 43 markets, including the UAE and Oman.
More than 50% (24) of the markets studied by Turner & Townsend face labour shortages, it was found, with additional challenges such as skills shortages, exchange rate pressures, and low productivity, also enumerated in the report.
Over the past year, these challenges have also shaped job search trends in the region.
The following pages outline the top five job search trends noted in the GCC in the last 12 months.
Most searched skills
Sourcing construction talent continues to be a top priority and challenge in the GCC, Suhail Masri, VP of employer solutions at job portal Bayt.com told ConstructionWeekOnline.
More than 1,000 construction-related vacancies are currently live on the website, and in 2016, the keyword ‘engineer’ was entered 65,271 times on Bayt’s search tool.
Meanwhile, the term 'project manager' was searched 24,230 times, and 'construction' was searched 14,835 times.
Masri said: "Currently, Saudi Arabia has the highest number of construction vacancies, followed closely by the UAE […] and Kuwait.
"The GCC continues to be one of the strongest job markets in the [Middle East]. During the first half of 2017, we had [at least] 10,000 jobs available on Bayt on any given day, more than half of which were based in the GCC."
LinkedIn reveals UAE job search trends
Jobs portal LinkedIn’s Industry Talent Report for the UAE’s construction sector, published this April, stated that 62% of the candidates it studied desire “excellent compensation and benefits” from their job.
Employment of construction industry professionals in the UAE grew by more than 4.9% over the past year
In addition, LinkedIn data showed that 4% of construction professionals in the UAE have changed jobs over the past year.
More than 7,000 recent graduates are currently employed in the the UAE's construction industry, LinkedIn's report states.
Up to 6.7% of recent graduate hires in the UAE's construction sector hold a postgraduate degree.
"According to the LinkedIn research conducted in the month of April 2017, 61% of construction professionals are found to be staying up to date on industry discussions on LinkedIn with 'construction', 'social media marketing', 'management', 'confidence building' being some of the popular topics of discussion," Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, told ConstructionWeekOnline.
"While 59% seem to network with other professionals, 52% use LinkedIn to learn what other colleagues are doing."
A tale of two kingdoms
Employers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also face challenges with regards to recruiting appropriately job-ready professionals.
Barry Prost, director of recruitment outfit Propel Consult, told ConstructionWeekOnline that unemployment accounts for 4% of Bahrain's population.
"Saudi has a soaring unemployment rate, particularly among its youth," he continued.
Unemployment stands at 12% for Saudi nationals, and 33.5% among its youth population.
"In Saudi, about 38% of the country’s 32 million people is made up of foreign workers," Prost said.
"They have had some success, through amnesties, of removing thousands of illegal foreign workers from the kingdom, but the question remains: can Saudi nationals fill the void?"
Construction: stressful, but popular
According to Bayt's Top Industries in the Middle East and North Africa Survey, construction is among the region's most stressful industries.
"This was what 18% of GCC respondents claimed," Masri said.
"Around 12.3% of GCC respondents also claimed that construction has the longest working hours."
However, construction remains one of the most popular industries in the GCC, according to Bayt's data.
"It was also believed to be one of the industries with the strongest growth, according to 17% of respondents," Masri added.
Quality skill shortages
As outlined by Turner & Townsend’s report, the challenge of finding skilled construction professionals persists in the GCC.
Sam Chehab, projects director at Klampfer Middle East, added that "sourcing top-tier skilled construction talent with the right experience is difficult".
He added: "Based on what I have seen, the literacy level of technical documents is far lower [than it ideally should be] – this leads to more supervisors required on-site."
Chehab said that while site labour is "more affordable here", increased supervision is required to ensure desired results.
"To give a current example, during our search for land surveyors, I’m finding that some of the candidates have a knowledge base [equal to] approximately 30% to 40% of the land surveyors that I have worked with abroad," Chehab told ConstructionWeekOnline.