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Sun 4 Mar 2007 12:58 PM

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Contractors under pressure to hike staff salaries

Salaries rise as contractors struggle to fill skills shortage.

Contractors are coming under increasing pressure to increase salaries as well as offer better relocation packages to senior level staff in a bid to fill skills shortage gaps.

In some cases, those going for engineering and project manager roles are demanding pay hikes of up to 80%, according to Simon Hobart, managing director of Millennium Solutions.

A project manager, for example, can earn between $24,000 and $27,000 a month (AED 90,000-100,000).

"We're finding that most of the demands are coming from Sri Lankan, Indian and Filipino engineers. They may be earning say $3,000 a month, but are asking for $5-6,000 to move. They know there is a dearth in the market," said Hobart.

Contractors are also expanding relocation packages as well as investing in training and development programmes to ensure key skills are retained.

"One of the problems is down to the fact that a lot of construction companies across the world stopped training in the mid-to-late 1980s, not anticipating the growth of construction worldwide. So we're looking proactively at how we resource and get the staff we need, as well as how we deal with the immediate problem," said Jane Carter, HR manager, Al Futtaim Carillion.

"We do a significant amount of training and development and we're conducting ‘milk-rounds' to bring people in from universities."

Contractors are also moving away from sourcing senior level staff from the traditional recruitment markets of the UK, Australia and South Africa.

"A lot of companies are looking in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia for engineers and quantity surveyors," added Hobart.

The recent easing of restrictions on changing jobs within the UAE has increased movement among mid-level and senior professionals has also resulted in increased pay levels, said William Buck, international director at property recruitment consultancy MacDonald & Company.

"The competition for talent in the development sector has also raised pay levels in overlapping industries."

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