After long years of high oil prices, the dramatic collapse of the same ones during the past months revealed a crisis in this region of the world which was unforeseeable only two years ago.
This situation created several new budget issues and constraints which leaded the GCC governments to cut some state subsidies on fuel, water and other utilities, and the funds for projects now considered not so more essential as before.
This caused a consequent slow-down in the activities of those sectors directly linked with the oil prices, like the energy companies who released the vast majority of the staff, both white and blue collars, due to the mentioned drop, and part of the construction industry which has been affected by the cancellation of several public projects.
At the same time we noticed there are sectors based on the steadily grow of the population which haven’t been damaged by the negative development of the oil prices, like the healthcare industry, as instance, for which the recruitment indicators will remain high and massive.
The above situation created not only a significant increase of redundancy of expatriates personnel, especially in engineering and general management, but also an understandable decrease of pay rise percentage, with the current forecast fixed on an average of 5.2% from the 6.8% of 2014 and 5.6 % of 2015.
At the same time, excluding luxury villas/apartments where the related rental costs are remaining stable and in some cases also decreasing a bit (like in Qatar from the 2nd quarter of 2016 as instance), due to the said redundancies of top management and white collars profiles, the other typologies of apartments and accommodation have seen an increase of the related rental costs, due to the already mentioned reduction of governments subsidies and the growing of the inflation (from 2.2% to 4.8% in Saudi Arabia, and from 3.7% to 4.1% in Kuwait, for example), on which might have also a further negative impact the planned introduction of VAT, which is expected to rise by 2018.
The direct influence on the general recruiting trends is that companies in the GCC region become much more careful and cautious: they reduced the recruitment of external candidates, giving preference to the internal mobility inside their groups or limiting it only to a replacement actions.
There is currently an increasing rise of the demand for multi-tasking experts who can undertake a wide range of commitments and accountabilities, and also many companies are proceeding to outsource and merge many departments much more than in the past years, on the way of cost savings and efficiency.
The only relevant exception can be noticed on the healthcare recruitment market, which is in a sort of booming phase with the vast majority of the firms involved in that increased their headcount since 2014-2015, due to the fast growing of population and the recent changes in several local labor laws which now make mandatory for every company to provide health care benefits for the employees.