GCC new jobs growth set to surge as employers prepare for 2024

Job creation in region increased by 5 per cent in third quarter, Cooper Fitch report finds

A majority of industries in the GCC saw growth in the number of new jobs in the market, a report by Cooper Fitch found. Getty Images
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The GCC is expected to record an increase in the number of new job opportunities in the fourth quarter of this year as companies prepare to build their teams for 2024, a report by recruitment specialist Cooper Fitch has found.

Job creation in the region increased by 5 per cent in the third quarter, compared with a 3 per cent decrease in the April to June period, Cooper Fitch said in its Gulf Employment Index report on Monday.

The UAE recorded 9 per cent growth in new jobs in the three months to the end of September 30 after a drop in the second quarter, the report found. This was followed by Kuwait, which recorded 2 per cent growth in new jobs and Qatar at 1 per cent.

“Despite it being the summer months, the majority of industries saw growth in the number of new jobs in the market,” Cooper Fitch said in the report, which monitors new job activity and employment trends in the region.

“Saudi Arabia saw no change in the number of new opportunities when compared with quarter two.”

The jobs market in the UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has recovered well from the pandemic, driven by fiscal and social measures introduced by the government.

Most companies in the UAE plan to hire more employees during the remainder of the year, and wages are expected to increase by just under 2 per cent in 2023, according to the Cooper Fitch Salary Guide 2023.

Salaries across the GCC region are expected to rise by an average of 5 per cent this year amid a buoyant hiring market driven by strong market confidence and a boost in investments, recruitment specialist Hays Middle East said in its GCC salary report.

Industries in the GCC that recorded the biggest jump in hiring in the third quarter included real estate, sales and marketing, human resources, legal, cyber security, supply chain and finance, the Cooper Fitch employment index report found.

New jobs growth for GCC real estate sector roles soared 9 per cent compared with 8 per cent in the second quarter, the research found.

“There is a very strong need in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, particularly for professionals across a broad range of skill sets such as design, development, project management, asset management, sales and others,” the Cooper Fitch report said.

“In addition, sustainability roles are also growing as organisations focus more on their ESG strategies.”

UAE Salary Guide 2023 – in pictures

The GCC recorded a 6 per cent increase in the number of new positions in the sales and marketing sector, according to the report.

There has been a slight increase in jobs focused on sales and business development, but a small drop in marketing roles, the Cooper Fitch study found.

The hospitality and tourism sectors are seeing more movement from sales and marketing professionals relocating to the GCC region, due to ambitious tourism projects and infrastructure development, commanding a huge appetite for these talents, it revealed.

HR jobs in the GCC registered an increase of 5 per cent in the third quarter, with strong demand for generalist profiles and candidates with niche skill sets such as HR transformation or culture, the research showed.

The GCC’s legal sector recorded 4 per cent growth in in-house job roles, particularly for lawyers from a common law jurisdiction within the energy, real estate and construction industry, according to Cooper Fitch. Mergers and acquisitions lawyers were especially sought-after.

“M&A lawyers are still in high demand, particularly in Saudi Arabia, driven by both new entities setting up and also those expanding their operations,” the report said.

The region’s cybersecurity sector registered a 4 per cent increase in new jobs, as there continues to be a need for professionals who possess expertise across threat assessment, digital forensics, and incident response to close the skills shortage gap, the consultancy said.

“Within technology, digital, data and AI saw a 3 per cent rise in the number of new jobs and a demand for professionals, particularly across mid-management and individual contributor positions such as data engineers, data scientists, cloud engineers and AI/machine learning engineers, especially in Saudi Arabia,” it added.

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Similarly, there was a 3 per cent growth in opportunities in the GCC’s banking sector, with a need for mid to senior professionals with client relationship management skill sets and regional experience, according to the Cooper Fitch study.

The region’s strategy market recorded a 2 per cent increase in new employment opportunities in the third quarter, with transportation projects in Saudi Arabia involving infrastructure development and master planning around aviation, ports and maritime sectors demanding candidates from a strategy background, the consultancy explained.

“Qatar and Saudi Arabia remain a top priority for consulting firms to grow their regional bases and candidates are increasingly keen to relocate to these locations.”

The investment industry also registered a 2 per cent increase in new jobs growth, reflecting a slowdown in summer but still active in M&A and investments across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the study showed.

“A lot of international talent, especially investment bankers from Europe, are keen to explore opportunities in the region’s newly established international investment companies and local sovereign wealth funds,” Cooper Fitch said.

Updated: October 10, 2023, 5:45 AM