Will hiring for technology jobs pick up in 2024?

There is a skill shortage in the niche security and defence sectors

Organisations will be finalising their 2024 hiring plans in the final quarter of this year. Getty Images
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As we approach the end of 2023, what does 2024 have in store for jobseekers in the technology sector?

It’s no secret that there has been a slowdown in tech for some time now, and naturally the summer months have been relatively quiet in terms of hiring.

As a business, our Middle East team has had a slow third quarter, which was the opposite of what we saw in the first half of this year – the first six months were still very busy for us.

There have been further redundancies in the sector, both LinkedIn and Qualcomm recently announced layoffs – more than 1,000 staff, and only last month, Nokia said it would be laying off up to 14,000 in the coming months.

This is putting a lot more candidates on the market, making the competition for new roles much higher.

The good news is that most of the opportunities we have been working on have simply been delayed, rather than cancelled.

This means that some candidates we were expecting to be in new roles in the past couple of months have been delayed to November and December, but many have been pushed back until January.

Interestingly, most of the signed contracts we have seen from candidates starting next year suggest they are moving from abroad – this means there is still a skill shortage locally.

The biggest gaps are in niche security and defence sectors, and there is a large uptake in the need for specialists with experience in drone technology, for example.

We have also seen a significant increase in activity with both existing and new clients, which is starting to bring even more placements for the first quarter of 2024.

One thing I have learnt in 16 years in the region is patience. Deals and projects take longer to close, sometimes because the stakes are higher but often the process takes longer than in other parts of the world.

This affects and delays the hiring practice, but good things come to those who wait.

Gitex this year was probably the busiest it’s ever been, and although not all leading tech companies are hiring, there are several multinationals and start-ups that are looking to build a presence, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

One highlight is seeing the big presence that Salesforce had at the event, and speaking with some of the vice presidents, it’s no secret that they have big hiring plans for next year.

There will be some internal relocations but many new opportunities available for local jobseekers.

There are also a lot of companies in the partner ecosystem that have big plans for next year.

Another trend we have noticed is that while many leading tech vendors have been downsizing or putting a freeze on hiring, a lot of the leading system integrators and consulting companies are filling the gaps by expanding their teams.

One reason for this is that vendors are less interested in the services business in this part of the world, and do not want to leave billable resources “on the bench” when projects wind down.

Another reason is that with the sheer scale and complexity of some of the projects, clients are looking for an organisation that can provide a solution rather than deal with multiple vendors and suppliers.

In some cases, system integrators will not pay as high as leading vendors but can often offer more long-term job security.

In the past, a job with Meta, Google, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft may have been viewed as a job for life, but recent events have proven that this isn’t the case.

Organisations will be finalising their hiring plans for 2024 in the last quarter of this year and there will always be natural attrition, so the outlook for next year looks quite positive with plenty of room for growth.

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

The UAE and the wider region will always have their ups and downs in the economy like anywhere else, but I still see no reason why we will not continue to see huge opportunities in the coming years.

The oil price remains strong and growth in non-energy sectors such as aviation, real estate and tourism remains high.

I had expected the IT sector to bounce back sooner than it has, but thankfully am looking at it with a long-term view and a positive outlook.

Although there have been challenges, I look positively towards a new year that already has a great start confirmed for it.

For those who are seeking new jobs within technology, I can only suggest a similar mentality.

John Armstrong is founder and managing director of JCA Associates

Updated: November 14, 2023, 6:12 AM