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2017 GCC hiring market to see an uplift in activity

Updated: 24th January 2016


2017 is to be a busier year than 2016 for hiring in the GCC, according to Hays 2017 GCC Salary & Employment Report, published today by recruiting experts Hays. The report, which was compiled from a survey of over 2,700 GCC working professionals, found that 72% of employers plan on recruiting additional staff in the next twelve months compared to the 37% who did so in 2016.

This optimism follows a challenging year for the job market in 2016, as the tightening of company budgets in response to weak energy prices saw a decrease in spending on resource. Thirty-seven per cent of employers who took part in the research reported a reduction in headcount within their organisation, which was in contrast to 17% in 2015 and to the 11% who anticipated this when surveyed last year. The number of redundancies also doubled year-on-year, with 4% of employees reporting to have lost their job in 2016. With regards to salary, 9% of employees working in the GCC experienced a pay cut, compared to 2% the prior year and a further 52% of respondents saw no change to their salary. 'Standard annual pay increases across the whole company' are also on the decrease, with only 7% of working professionals experiencing a salary change as a result of this in 2016.

“We have certainly noticed companies adopting a more strategic and cost conscious approach to spending on employee remuneration and the hiring of additional headcount,” says Chris Greaves, Managing Director of Hays, Gulf Region.

“Workforce salaries are one of the single biggest costs for employers and, given the challenging economic climate of the past twelve months, it is simply not viable to offer company-wide pay rises. Instead, we have seen added focus to be on individual performance related pay, which typically amounts to a lower spend for employers than company-wide pay increases,” says Chris.

Looking ahead, the report predicts salaries to continue at a relatively flat rate compared to 2016, with the vast majority of employers (82%) expecting pay rates to either remain the same or increase by less than 5% in the next twelve months.

“While this statistic may be viewed with some disappointment from employees, we are confident that the market is on the way up. Cost cutting exercises, such as company restructuring and redundancies, in response to low energy prices have already taken place. Many organisations are operating on minimum staff levels and are in a strong position to hire additional headcount in order to meet their 2017 business objectives,” says Chris.

In demand

Insight from the survey, along with Hays recent job listings, job offers and candidate registration statistics, has seen a general uplift in demand for candidates across all industry sectors when compared to 2016.

“Generally speaking, activity in the hiring market is looking positive. The GCC continues to be an attractive region for business, which sees ongoing and added investment from new market entrants, particularly SMEs locating themselves in free zones.”

“With regards to individual skill sets, bi-lingual candidates who speak both Arabic and English, as well as those with both local and international experience in their respective industries are always highest in demand. It is however, an incredibly competitive market for job seekers and it is critical that candidates are able to demonstrate the value that they can bring to an organisation in order to be considered for a role.”

“Specific roles we have noticed to have increased in demand include: cyber security professionals, who can proactively guard against threats to company property; online payment experts, in order to get the region up to speed with other global economies already invested in this; C-suite executives, to fulfil business objectives; as well as marketing content specialists, to build brand awareness and reputation.”

Hays 2017 GCC Salary & Employment Report

The Hays GCC Salary & Employment Report is an annual in-depth analysis of the hiring market and employee salaries within the GCC region. This is the third, and most comprehensive produced. The report explores the following job categories: Accountancy & Finance, Construction & Property, Engineering, HR, IT, Legal, Office Support, Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain.

Notes on methodology

The report has been compiled using data gathered in Q4 2016 from over 2,500 employees and 250 employers based in organisations of all sizes throughout the GCC. We have also used job listings, job offers and candidate registrations with Hays UAE to verify the survey results and give a rounded and detailed analysis of salaries and the employment market.


About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2016 the Group employed 9,214 staff operating from 252 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2016:

– the Group reported net fees of £810.3 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £181 million;

– the Group placed around 67,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 220,000 people into temporary assignments;

– 22% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 45% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 33% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;

– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;

– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA