Now hiring: Hot sectors and in-demand jobs in UAE
Forecasts show a continuation of a strong job market in the UAE and the prospect of many more job openings to come.
Dubai - Salaries of accounts, finance experts projected to see biggest increase
The build-up to Expo 2020 Dubai and the introduction of value-added tax have brightened the outlook for new hiring in the UAE.
The recruitment climate is believed to have plateaued while salaries of accounts and finance experts are projected to see the biggest increase, says a report.
"There are some emerging trends that are creating a resurgence in the hiring climate. One of these is the build-up to Expo 2020, which is accelerating the outlook for new hiring. Another is the proposed introduction of value added tax [VAT] in 2018 and potential changes to corporate tax that are still in discussion. Both of these initiatives will drive demand for tax specialists and management accountants in the lead-up to their introduction and after, creating stronger demand for financial professionals who can help organisations deal with the changes new tax regimes will introduce," said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half Middle East.
According to Suhail Masri, vice-president of employer solutions at Bayt.com, the hiring forecast shows a continuation of a strong job market in the UAE and the prospect of many more job openings to come. A recent Bayt survey revealed that more than a third - 36 per cent - of those planning to hire in the UAE are looking to hire for more than five job roles.
Jobs in demand
The report says most of the demand will be for CFOs, financial controllers/accountants, finance directors/managers, financial planning and analysis specialists in the accounts and finance sector. Those candidates with knowledge and skills of Oracle and SAP systems, effective communications, advanced Excel, MBA, Islamic finance knowledge and ACA qualified will be much in demand.
Most of the demand for these jobs will come from pharmaceutical, FMCG, retail, hospitality, construction and boutique investment firms.
In the financial services industry, most positions in demand will be institutional sales specialists, wealth/private banking sales professionals, regulatory and compliance officers, anti-money laundry specialists and brokers, according to the Robert Half report.
Candidates possessing multinational banking experience, speaking fluent Arabic, existing local client relationship, financial crime and sanctions expertise will be mostly in demand from the financial services companies.
In the technology sector, according to Robert Half, the companies will be mainly looking for candidates for the positions of ERP application and functional experts, project managers, business partners, sales director and managers and IT security managers. Candidates having experience of project management infrastructure and application rollouts, new platforms such as Internet of Things and convergent technologies and user and customer experience will be in demand.
In the human resources department, companies will be looking for recruitment specialists, payroll managers, HR officers, senior HR director and learning and development directors. Candidates possessing commercial acumen, knowledge of SAP and Oracle, change and people management, multinational and corporation expertise will be in demand.
For legal jobs, the companies will be scouting to fill the posts of senior regional counsel, corporate and commercial lawyers, junior counsel and paralegals. Candidates applying for these posts will have to be Western educated with GCC experience, Arabic drafting expertise and effective English communication skills.
In the accounts and finance industry, 89 per cent of CFOs predict that they will either maintain the size of their permanent teams and fill vacated positions (49 per cent) or expand by adding new positions (40 per cent). Only four per cent of companies said that they would reduce their finance teams.
Greater demand creates greater competition, and 89 per cent of finance leaders report that it is challenging to find skilled professionals today. Almost half (49 per cent) say that the shortage is mainly caused by the current lack of niche, technical experts, while 21 per cent pin it on a scarcity of commercial and business skills, and 17 per cent say that general demand simply outweighs supply.
The majority (85 per cent) of CFOs are concerned about losing top financial professionals to other job opportunities in the year ahead. On average, employers predict that salaries for accounting and finance professionals will rise by 5.8 per cent. Bonus payments are following a similar trend.
Only eight per cent of CFOs said that they would lower bonuses, compared with 35 per cent who said that payments would rise and 45 per cent who said that bonuses would remain static. Annual bonuses are being awarded on the basis of personal performance, and they average one to two months' salary. According to Robert Half, the strongest demand is for mid-level finance professionals with five to seven years' experience.
The report's findings revealed that new technologies continue to drive demand for skilled IT professionals in the UAE especially in ERP platforms and mobile.
Mid- to senior-level IT professionals are in particular demand and are commanding competitive salaries, it said.
Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Emerging Markets, Middle East & North Africa, said the next wave of digital jobs will be shaped by the 'Essential Eight' technologies: blockchain, 3D printing, drones, virtual reality, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence. "GCC governments can lead by example through championing the digitization of public institutions. GCC governments should partner with technology players, educational institutions, and the corporate sector to boost supply and create demand in the digital job market," Matar said.
The Robert Half study predicts that the biggest beneficiary in terms of salary hike in accounting and finance industry will be tax directors, getting 6.5 per cent pay hike, followed by FP&A manager at 5.1 per cent, financial controller at 4.9 per cent, and tax manager 4.7 per cent.
In the financial services industry, private equity and asset management executives will see 10.5 per cent salary hike followed by CFOs at 7.8 per cent.
In the technology sector, IT managers will see biggest hike between seven and eight per cent increment followed by system managers at 6.5 per cent. In the human resources and administration, salaries are projected to rise up to 7.1 per cent for the head compensation and benefits department.
In the legal sector, salaries of partners, paralegal and legal assistant will see biggest hike of 7.1 per cent, 6.8 per cent and 6.7 per cent, respectively. According to Bayt's survey, industries that offer the best salary packages included banking and finance (22 per cent), aerospace and aviation (14 per cent), and engineering/design (12 per cent).
Bayt.com's Masri sad that although more than half of respondents - 52 per cent - to regional survey were satisfied with their salaries, the majority of respondents to also agreed that the cost of living has been increasing and will continue to do so over the years ahead. This means that they are in need of salaries that reflect the increased costs.
At the same time, 39 per cent of respondents to Bayt's survey claimed that their loyalty to their company is not linked to the salary they receive.
With the majority of organisations seeking skilled professionals today, the competition for the best candidates is heating up. This is certainly the case when organisations are looking for specific skills, Robert Half said in a note.
Over a third - 35 per cent - say that the primary reason it's challenging to find talented professionals today is that there is a lack of niche, technical experts.
Meanwhile, organisation believe that competition will continue to increase for retaining the best talent in the very near future.
Retention concerns are being driven not only by the resurgence in some local job markets but also by the move by expats to take up opportunities in the US, UK, Europe and Asia.
"Indeed, over the last three years voluntary employee turnover has increased at 39 per cent of organisations and decreased at only six per cent of organisations, once again highlighting the accelerating movement of professionals to new opportunities," El Mettouri noted.
Around 85 per cent CFOs in the UAE are concerned about losing top performers in the coming year.
Robert Half's survey found that 38 per cent employees showed concerns over company's performance and the same percentage showed fear of redundancy. While 31 per cent claimed insufficient remuneration or recognition and 24 per cent fear stagnant career prospects and 21 per cent poor work-life balance.