The credit crisis which began late last year wreaked havoc in Dubai as banks reduced lending, property prices nosedived, and projects were put on hold or cancelled altogether.
In the wake of the meltdown many companies were forced to reduce staff, cut salaries, and freeze bonuses.
However, signs of a turnaround are starting to be felt across the emirate, albeit slowly, according to experts. Following a stagnant summer period that coincided with Ramadan, many companies are taking the view that the worst of the economic crisis is over and are starting to position themselves for a return to growth.
‘We had a very quiet summer, but our consultants are all saying that their e-mails are busier and their phones are ringing much more now,’ Mike Hynes, managing partner at Kershaw Leonard, a Dubai-based recruitment consultancy, told AMEinfo.com. ‘The general feeling is that things are much busier.’
Many firms are gearing up for a turnaround by engaging in ‘strategic recruiting’ aimed at targeting employees who can help the organization expand, he noted.
‘Companies are recognizing that the people who can lead you through a lean time are not necessarily the same kind of people you need during a growth time. For example, in the financial sector we are seeing companies looking for regional financial controllers and finance directors – the kind of people you would put on board if you are looking to grow,’ he said.
Cliff Single, Commercial Manager, BAC Middle East, agrees that the fourth quarter looks promising for the job market in the emirate. ‘Real estate is still suffering, but in most of the other sectors things are moving. In quite a lot of areas there are positive signs,’ he noted.
‘We will definitely see a pick up in the last quarter; the big question is how far it picks up. I doubt it will return to where we were in the middle of 2008, but I think we will still be better than where we were for most of this year.’
While there may be an upturn in the number of positions being offered in the Dubai market, job seekers should not expect much improvement in terms of salaries. Over the course of the downturn salaries dropped as much as 30% depending on the role or the sector, and there is no sign that they are picking up, Single noted.
‘I think they are stabilizing now. It’s not positive in the sense that they are increasing but at least they are not falling,’ he said.
One fallout of the continued cost-cutting pressure on companies is that some positions are being combined, which means a candidate may be expected to do more than the person in the previous role yet receive no increase in salary over the individual they are replacing.
‘Also, candidates who are out of a job are now much more willing to take jobs below their previous salary just to get back into the job market,’ Single noted. ‘Equally so, people who are still in a job but perhaps unsure of their future are willing to move for the same money or a little less in order to secure their future.’
Looking ahead, Hynes remains cautious about predicting the outlook for the jobs sector in the coming months, but he believes there are signs that the economy is not getting any worse.
‘It is safe to see we have reached the bottom. I believe the recovery will look like the shape of a bath tub; that is a long gradual return to grown rather than a sharp return upward. We have just seen the start of it,’ he said.
Sunday, October 4- 2009 @ 14:46 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.