Gulf construction should prioritise job vacancies during Ramadan 2018

Marcus Taylor, managing partner at Taylor Sterling Associates, outlines how construction leaders should manage their manpower in the months to come

COMMENT, Human Resource, Construction jobs, Marcus Taylor, Middle East construction, Middle east jobs, Ramadan

In 2015, a poll stated that during Ramadan, recruitment remained at a level of 60%, matching the rate recorded throughout the rest of the year.

This huge false positive was based on the number of job advertisements posted online and not on the actual process of sourcing, interviewing, offering, and onboarding candidates.

In my 12 years of industry experience in the GCC, it has become apparent that the level of productivity during the summer and Ramadan periods has been on a steady decline, year after year. So far, I have had only one client who suggested that they would pick up an assignment after Ramadan.

This year has witnessed a larger number of companies implementing strategic measures to ensure they are both stronger and leaner to avoid the impact of a market downturn.

Cost-cutting measures and the stalling of projects has disrupted many of the growth plans of these companies, even with oil reaching $75 per barrel for the first time in nearly half a decade.

With this in mind, is now the right time to bring your job search to a halt, or to take recruitment off your list of top priorities? Certainly not. This is the third time in the last 10 years that regional firms have been put in this situation, and if there is anything we’ve learned, it is to keep the lines out and baited.

Last year, Taylor Sterling concluded an 18-month survey revealing 76% of placements were passive candidates, of which 80% were top performers. This trend can trigger inevitable cost-cutting redundancies, leading to a large number of skilled workers being presented with an opportunity to target companies they see themselves matching with.

When the levee inevitably breaks and cost versus value balances out, teams will be required to grow again. There will be a rush to grab the skilled talent and have them onboarded yesterday.

Hopefully, employers will have made proactive efforts this time, as projects begin to come back online. And it must go beyond the headcount – the groundwork will have to have been laid to engage the right individuals, and back-ups should be in place if the top choice falls through.

This proactive approach is more effective for consultancies than contractors, as resources are required onsite to create revenue. It is equally important to not overwork the construction managers while searching for support, as you could be left recruiting for two roles if the individual has had enough of working long days in the intense heat.

If you find yourself having to let some people go, then this is one of the best opportunities to build your reputation as a choice employer. I have been involved in redundancy measures twice this year, and have helped the affected find their way back into the market.

The ramifications of such efforts are significant, since job security is an ongoing issue in the global construction industry. A reputation for going that extra mile will make you a top employer of choice, which in itself will reduce the salary expectations of those who are prepared for a long-term commitment with a good company.

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