60% of Middle East & North African companies plan to hire in next 3 months

Almost 60 percent of Middle East and North African (MENA) companies say they will be hiring in the next three months, with multinationals or large local organisations most likely to drive the new jobs market, a report said.

The Bayt.com Middle East Job Index Survey, which used data collected between December 15 and February 9 from more than 3,000 employers in 13 countries, found overall jobs growth of two points since August 2013.

It comes as professional job opportunities across the UAE increased by 12 percent between January 2014 and February 2014, according to separate survey by global recruitment specialist Morgan McKinley.

The Bayt.com survey found 59 percent of those surveyed claimed they would be hiring in the next three months either for their organisation or for clients.

Plans to hire were most prominent in the GCC, with 41 percent “definitely hiring” compared to 26 percent in both North Africa and Levant.

Private companies that comprised multinationals or large local organisations were most likely to hire in the next three months, it said.

However, of those surveyed in Oman, Qatar and Saudi, 70 percent said they were definitely or probably hiring in the next three months for up to 10 positions. Six percent said they would be hiring for more than 50 jobs.

The survey found most companies were looking to fill in junior and middle-level positions for their companies, with only 10-20 percent seeking upper management employees.

“The qualifications most demanded include areas of business management or commerce,” it said. “This is followed by those with technical (engineering) and IT skills.”

The Morgan McKinley report found between February 2013 and February 2014, there was a seven percent increase in roles, while the number of professional jobseekers increased seven percent from January 2014 to February 2014.

Year-on-year, the number of professionals looking for work increased by 12 percent, it said, with 11,366 candidates actively seeking job opportunities in February 2014 – up seven percent from 10,620 in January 2014.

“The UAE’s economy is in a particularly positive place at the moment,” Trefor Murphy, managing director at Morgan McKinley UAE, said.

“The rise in professional opportunities has been driven by a number of key sectors.  In particular we’ve seen heightened demand from chemical plants throughout Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as the region seeks to diversify from crude oil exports and capitalise on the worldwide appetite for petrochemicals.

“Likewise, the power industry continues to expand, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with a move from oil and gas into renewables.”

Murphy said the announcement this month that solar and wind developers will soon be able to tap a $40m fund aimed at bringing more clean energy to the region would also mean more professionals with green energy skills will become increasingly sought after.

He said other job drivers included increased oil exploration efforts in Iraq and Africa, ramped up production in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Abu Dhabi as a result of the Ukraine crisis and an expansion by food and beverage companies across the region.

“Although firms in this sector are often seeking international experience – and the fresh perspective this can bring – native Arabic speakers are still highly preferred in senior positions, particularly in functions that are driving influence and change,” he said.

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