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Sat 21 Sep 2013 11:04 AM

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Expat recruitment still key to UAE finance sector - poll

New search by Robert Half shows that US, UK professionals targeted to fill crucial roles in UAE

Expat recruitment still key to UAE finance sector - poll
Emirati men, Dubai, UAE nationals and expats. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Expatriate recruitment remains a priority for finance executives in the Middle East, according to new research by Robert Half UAE.

The recruitment firm said that with finance directors expecting to increase permanent headcount in the second half of the year, they are targeting professionals from North America (32 percent) and the United Kingdom (27 percent) to fill critical roles.

Despite Emiratisation efforts to recruit more local professionals in the region, executives cited recruitment challenges, with lack of local senior-level talent (56 percent), inflated salary expectations (51 percent) and a preference for Western education the primary factors preventing them from doing so.

However, executives added that there were reasons to recruit locals for local business knowledge and connections (81 percent), greater cultural understanding (63 percent) and longer tenure with the organisation (61 percent).

"The most successful organisations will be able to balance both local and expatriate recruitment to create a team with both the cultural understanding and global exposure to drive real and measurable value across the organisation," the research said.

With more than eight in 10 executives challenged in finding the skilled talent they need, expatriate recruitment will remain a central strategy for the foreseeable future, Robert Half's report claimed.

When asked what makes candidates from this region the most suitable for their organisation, one quarter (24 percent) said the market/business environment was the chief reason they would look to this area.

This was followed by the accounting standards (20 percent) and language skills (16 percent). Other criteria include the regulatory environment, education and cultural awareness.

Gareth El Mettouri, associate director, Robert Half UAE said: "A favourable economic environment and increased hiring has companies investing in their permanent headcount to manage new projects and initiatives, business expansion and new market penetration.

"A shortage of suitable candidates, however, has sparked a 'war for talent', as companies unsuccessful at sourcing the requisite local talent are turning to international recruitment to fill business-critical roles.

"Many professionals with the most in-demand skills who relocate to the UAE without a job offer in hand are finding that they are receiving multiple job offers within weeks of arrival," he added.