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93pc of UAE firms to boost staffing in 2012

Growth in the UAE workforce has continued at a steady pace throughout 2011 and this is set to continue into 2012 with 93 per cent UAE companies forecasting an increase in their headcount, said a report.

However, the employers will be looking at recruiting much more cautiously in the first quarter of 2012, added the latest review conducted by the Gulf Recruitment Group, one of UAE’s leading executive recruiters. UAE companies including multinationals and leading local companies have expressed strong confidence that 2012 will see accelerated business activity and with this greater hiring in the UAE and the wider region.

‘Our market review suggests it will be a good start to the year when it comes to hiring in the UAE,’ said Mark Timms, director, Gulf Recruitment Group.

‘Overall, employers anticipate a continued hiring pace compared to 2011, with the brightest job prospects reported by employers in the FMCG, construction and pharmaceutical sectors.”

“On the other hand, opportunities in the corporate and retail banking sector are expected to be more challenging while the investment banking sector intends to maintain the same level of employment as the last year. There will however be some good news for candidates seeking careers in the insurance industry though”, added Timms.

The Gulf Recruitment Group has seen a positive upturn this year with an increase of 46 per cent in live mandates received and placed in 2011 compared to 2010 and envisions this to improve significantly throughout 2012.

The construction sector will see increased demand in the first two quarters of 2012 with 17 per cent of organizations reviewed having a manpower plan in place for next year. Job openings will be in project management and engineering especially out of the UAE, the report said.

“It is very clear that the UAE economy is picking up in various sectors and with significant regional projects being announced, much of the expertise for these projects is being sourced from the UAE. We are already seeing situations where companies are competing for talent, and generally I believe we can expect for growth in demand and supply,” said Richard W Turner, chief executive officer, Ecolog Development and Engineering.

The outlook for hiring in the financial services industry in 2012 is still uncertain across the region, he added.

“We have seen the regional banks lending in 2011 at a much better rate than before which does have a positive effect on business growth but with uncertainty over Europe and issues in both China and India the outlook for the interbank credit liquidity in 2012 is perhaps poor,” said Toby Simpson, managing director, the Gulf Recruitment Group.

“The big question is whether high net worth individuals and leading GCC institutions will put their hands in their pockets again and put money back into the investment arena which will spur asset management, private equity and the regional economy as a whole. This in turn will spur recruitment in financial services.”

With recruitment levels in general set to continue at a steady pace in the coming year, the Gulf Recruitment Group aims to expand throughout the Middle East.

The company is looking at Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the key growth markets outside the UAE and although recruitment in the UAE is set to pick up, candidates should not ignore expanding their employment geographies, Simpson added.

2012 could prove even more volatile

With elections and leadership changes in the most powerful countries, Europe in crisis, ferment in the Middle East and worsening economic hardship driving unrest and discontent everywhere, 2012 could be just as volatile as 2011 if not worse.

The current year may yet carry a sting in its tail, with worries over the euro and jitters over a possible Israeli strike on Iran likely to keep financial markets and policymakers on tenterhooks all the way to the New Year.

More than three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers prompted the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, economic turmoil looks to be driving political upheaval in what could become a particularly disruptive feedback loop.

Economic stresses — from rising food prices to worsening economic hardship in the developed world — were at the heart of many of 2011’s political stories. As they intensify, political volatility, gridlock, confrontation and conflict — whether domestic or international — look set to worsen.

‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better,’ said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at London-based risk consultancy Control Risks. ‘If you look at what’s been driving events this year, none of the factors has gone away and many of the economic drivers are still growing.’

Presidential elections in the United States, France and Russia and the dual transition of power at the top of China’s Communist Party will add to the uncertainty. They may make it harder for political leaders to find compromises or push through tough policy choices.

That, many analysts warn, brings with it a mounting risk of political gridlock coming just as the world needs leadership most. The failure of the US Congressional ‘super committee’ to agree on how to reduce the budget deficit may be a sign of things to come domestically in many countries.

US President Barack Obama faces a tough re-election bid, whomever the Republicans choose to challenge him, because of a sluggish economy, 8.6 percent unemployment and a squeeze on the middle classes due to fallen home and stock prices.

A fragile global consensus forged at a 2009 summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies may be gone for good, replaced by what Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, calls a rudderless ‘G-zero’ world.

Top of the list of 2012 risks for many analysts is the unresolved sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone. If the 17-nation European single currency is to survive in its current form, its members will have to confront harsh economic adjustments and seismic political reform. Last week’s Brussels summmit, the 16th since the start of the two-year-old crisis, was billed by some as the last chance to save the euro.

While euro zone leaders and some non-euro states agreed to forge a closer fiscal union with stricter budget discipline, the outcome fell short of guaranteeing the euro’s ultimate survival.

At worst, 2012 could still see a disorderly breakup bringing with it a chain of defaults, bank runs and civil unrest, not to mention a savage global economic shock worse than that of 2008.

Ultimately, however, many believe the euro will endure — although not without colossal strains as it tries to reconcile very different economies such as Germany and Greece.

‘The greatest single risk is obviously the euro zone but it might also be the risk that is sorted out the quickest,’ says Alastair Newton, a former British government official who is chief political analyst at Japanese bank Nomura.

‘But even if that happens then you’re still going to have very low growth and a rise in social unrest in the southern euro zone in particular and across Europe in general. Even in the best case scenario, 2012 looks pretty rough.’


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