The Evolving Recruitment Industry of the Middle East

The Middle East has certainly faced economic and political challenges in recent years, which has led to uncertainty in the recruitment industry.

The collapse of oil prices in 2014-15 and reduction in government spending saw many businesses respond with caution and look to reduce costs and gain improvements in efficiency by restructuring, accepting more expatriates, merging roles and indeed redundancies.

As a result, although the region has historically seen skills shortages, the changes saw a market where top talent was available and looking for work.

Uncertainty surrounding the future of oil prices and in an attempt to try to prevent further limitations on economic growth in the region, governments have begun a drive in the region to involve themselves further in the global economy and create sustainable growth by diversification. This has resulted in a demand for workers with new skill sets, especially in renewable energy and many companies continue to look towards expats to provide the skills they require.

Although there is always the ongoing challenge of finding the best talent, retaining them has also become an area of concern. With expatriate recruitment still happening in most areas of the job market, there is an ongoing problem of employees returning home and this attrition rate requires constant levels of recruitment.

In addition, historically generous tax-free expat packages, that often-included housing, education, and healthcare, to ensure attraction of the best talent, are being lowered by many businesses to cut costs. This has had an impact on the cost of living in the region for expats, plus when combined with the introduction of VAT in 2018 in some regions, which has dampened consumer spending generally, there are fears that it might impact on the Middle East’s ability to attract top talent.

However, there are some clear signs of positivity as well as in some region. According to a recent survey by GulfTalent, there has been an upturn in business optimism driving growth in employment opportunities with one of the most important factors being the recent hike in the Oil and Gas prices. The crude oil price that has been ranging from 30 USD to 50 USD in 2016-17 has risen to 60 USD at the beginning of 2018.

The only major areas of concern in the region and one that could impact the recruitment sector heavily overtime are the regions continuing drive to introduce nationalization programs that increase the number of jobs held by Middle Eastern nationals. Saudi Arabia is driving Saudization, which saw a directive issued in January identifying 12 types of retail outlets that only citizens will be able to work in.

Kuwait has taken steps to make expatriates less employable, by reducing the number of professions in which expatriates can be employed and has also fired over 1,600 public sector expatriate employees so far this year; almost three times the amount of expatriates it dismissed in all of 2017.

Overall, there are clear challenges ahead for the recruitment industry, however as the region continues to see new markets evolve and as a direct result offers new roles and as the region continues to grow and develop, there will still be many opportunities for top talent from around the world.

Infographic Source: https://www.imsoneworld.com/infographic/evolving-recruitment-indust...

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