UAE sees big annual drop in job vacancies amid slowdown

Number of advertised vacancies slumps by 33% year-on-year, according to new report

The number of job vacancies in the UAE declined by 33 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period a year ago, a report claims.

The total number of advertised positions decreased from 5,786 in the first three months of 2016 to 3,890 in the first quarter this year, according to the latest Middle East Jobs Index from recruitment agency Robert Walters.

However, the index also showed there was a 3 percent increase in advertised job vacancies quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of 2017.

There were a total of 3,789 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2016, rising to 3,890 by the end of March, the report said.

Jobs growth was strongest in the procurement and supply chain sector in the last quarter – at 35 percent – with sales and marketing also showing healthy growth at 12 percent, the report added.

Jason Grundy, country head at Robert Walters Middle East, said although the number of vacancies fell year on year, there have been “evident signs of improvement in 2017, driven by a more stable oil price in the UAE over the past two months”.

He said the year-on-year decline could be attributed to a reasonably buoyant job market at the start of 2016. “Afterwards, job volumes deteriorated over the course of the year for a variety of reasons including a low oil price, strong dollar and slowdown in government spending,” he told Arabian Business.

Overall market sentiment was weaker coming into 2017 versus the start of 2016, he added, and companies had already been cautious in the previous quarter as they looked to make up budgets through cost savings.

The slight uptick by the end of March reflects slow returning confidence in some job market sectors, Grundy said, adding that the second quarter is likely to show an improvement on the same period last year.

He said: “While market conditions remain challenging for some sectors, especially legal and banking and we note the reduced number of roles between both years, I am pleased to see some sectors, in particular supply chain and sales and marketing,  are seeing an increase in the vacancies advertised.”

The index launched in the first quarter of 2015 and tracks advertising volumes across regional job boards, including sectors such as accountancy and finance, banking and financial services, legal, sales, marketing, and procurement and supply chain.

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