IT Contracting insights
April 2019

Hays Middle East’s dedicated IT Contracting division recently hit its two-year anniversary and with this, Jamie Pennie – our Business Head of Contracting in the region, reflects on his experiences to date, as well as key business opportunities for the coming year.

Looking back: 2018

2018 marked an incredibly busy period for contracting in the Middle East, with demand for fixed-term employees growing exponentially each month. As a result, we have hit quite a milestone within our own business – being the fastest growing contracting division across the Hays group, a mean feat given our scale that stretches across 33 different countries worldwide.

So where has this boom come from? We have noticed an increase in the number of roles available to contractors from organisations of all size, sector (public and private) and country - operating right across Qatar, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The main reason is down to employers realising the benefits contractors bring to organisations by way of their niche skills, expertise and focus for fulfilling complex technological projects, enabling them to get ahead of the competition.

Harnessing this demand, particularly in the UAE, are a number of government initiatives. Smart Dubai, EXPO 2020 and the 1 Million Arab Coders have put the region ‘on the map’ when it comes to technology, encouraging market-leading innovation across the region.

Looking ahead: 2019

We have already witnessed a very busy first quarter to 2019 and foresee countless opportunities within contracting ahead. Behind the public news headlines and government initiatives, are individual company strategies and their plans for growth, particularly within IT. From our experiences in the market, many organisations are investing in brand new technologies with the intention of making themselves smarter, leaner and more powerful than the competition. As such, we are seeing a drive for contractors with specialist skills related to Artificial Intelligence, BlockChain and Machine Learning. Also high on the agenda for organisations, are tools for protecting assets and preventing cybercrime and consequently, contractors with expertise for implementing the required software are high in demand. These trends are supported by recent alterations to company budgets, where we have seen many employers increasing contracting spend, adopting a 30:70, contractor to permanent staff split of their IT departments.

Challenges for employers

Sourcing contractors – particularly those with niche expertise and experience, can be difficult for employers. Within the emerging and high in demand technologies for example, there are certain instances where the demand highly outstrips the supply. We have seen this most recently with roles including AI and BlockChain specialists, SAP Certified Consultants and Digital Transformation Managers to name just a few.

In order to secure the best talent, organisations should be as proactive as possible with their hiring – planning their recruitment strategies and identifying the skills they will require in advance of the competition, rather than be stuck with a “we needed them yesterday” situation and having to compete with other employers for talent.

When employers do come to recruiting and managing contractors, there are also obstacles with regards to the quality of candidates, compliance issues in relation to visas, as well as the processing of multiple invoices and payroll. The solution that we would always suggest is to partner with an experienced agency, such as Hays, who can handle all associated complexities on behalf of the organisation, minimising time and effort that would otherwise be spent on these and ensuring that you hire the right contractors from day one.

Benefits of contracting

While I have mentioned the niche skills and expertise contractors bring to a business, there exists a number of other advantages to hiring employees on a fixed-term basis. Contractors offer a continuous stream of fresh ideas and new perspectives to organisations. From extensive experience working on different projects, to insights from within different companies, across different industries and regions, contractors have a wealth of experience that noticeably open up opportunities for business. Organisations who hire contractors are likely to are likely to have added dynamism than the competition, encouraging better quality decision-making for success in both the short and longer term.

Another advantage is that contract staff can be engaged and released at short notice, depending on the needs of your business and/or market. They can be used to supplement your workforce during sudden: busy periods, new clients or departures of existing staff.