Jobs for expats: UAE hired more than 38,000 in Q4 2019

Employment levels in the country grew 2% year-on-year, says central bank

Image used for illustrative purpose. Dubai residents wait at a station for the next metro to arrive.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Dubai residents wait at a station for the next metro to arrive.

RTA / Handout via Zawya

Jobs and hiring activities in the UAE’s private sector were higher in the last quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, pointing towards a strong employment market for expatriates in the Emirates.   

Employment in the UAE’s non-government sector grew 2 percent year-on-year in December 2019 to more than 5 million, the highest increase in the last seven quarters, UAE Central Bank data showed.

In its latest quarterly report, the regulator said a total of 38,765 new jobs were created for foreign workers during the last quarter of 2019,

Hiring picked up across all sectors, except for construction, where employment numbers continued to drop, posting a 2.4 percent year-on-year slump in the fourth quarter compared to the 1.1 percent and 2.3 percent decline during the second and third quarters, respectively.

“Positive macroeconomic developments during [Q4 2019] were reflected on the labour market, as employment in the private sector increased,” the central bank said.

Recruitment activity in the UAE has dropped in recent years after companies opted to reduce costs amid an economic slowdown. During the last few months of 2019, major banks in the country, including Emirates NBD and HSBC, were still reporting job cuts.

Recruitment specialists, however, said that things are looking up, as oil prices are stabilising and new investments continue to come in, particularly within the start-up space.

According to Hays, 56 percent of employers in Saudi Arabia and 51 percent in the UAE have plans to increase their headcount this year.

“Given the nature of the region and the people that are attracted to live and work here, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of positivity when looking at 2020,” Chris Greaves, managing director at Hays Gulf region, wrote in the latest Hays Salary and Employment Report.

Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for Robert Half UAE, said companies in the financial sector are also hiring new staff despite consolidation efforts and reductions in corporate budgets.

“While we have observed larger organisations in the region enact hiring freezes, demand continues for qualified finance talent, especially as FinTech and e-commerce focused start-ups continue to flood the region,” Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for Robert Half UAE, told Zawya.

He said there is ongoing demand for qualified finance talent in the wake of the region establishing itself as a haven for start-up businesses, which require experienced professionals in establishing and developing finance operation and processes.

“We are also seeing several new roles emerge for banking and financial services professionals as organisations are adapting their business processes through technological advancement,” El Mettouri added.

Which sectors are hiring?

According to UAE Central Bank data, employment in the real estate sector increased year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2019 by 6.3 percent, while companies in the business services industry registered a 10.5 percent increase.

More hiring was also witnessed in the manufacturing sector, with total employment growing by 1.3 percent compared to a zero growth in the previous quarter.

Employment in the transport, storage and communication sector also expanded slightly by 0.9 percent. The construction sector, which constitutes 32.2 percent of the total private sector workforce, posted a 2.4 percent decline.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)


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