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Tue 22 Feb 2011 12:00 AM

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Job jumping back in vogue

Should local authorities make it even easier for staff to move?

Job jumping back in vogue
Could short-term job seekers visas work here?

When large scale projects enter their final phases, or companies,
for one reason or another, have to down-size their operations in the Middle East,
(often to beef them up in other, more dynamic areas in the same region), workers
can find
themselves in a tight situation.

Some may have decided to put down roots in one particular Gulf
country, or have commitments such as property ownership, rental agreements, or their
children’s schooling which they are keen to fulfil.

When employees find themselves looking for new jobs, many of
which are likely to become available in 2011, the situation can be hard to deal
with in this region, yet it doesn’t seem like it has to be.

As readers from around the Gulf will be all too familiar with,
once an employment visa has been cancelled, that individual is obliged to leave
within a designated timeframe. Sometimes this can be as short as a month, possibly
even shorter.

One idea which has recently been suggested, and one which I see
no significant barriers to, is a temporary, or job-seekers visa. If skilled workers
decide that staying in one particular country is exactly what they want to do, then
a visa deposit could be paid to the relevant authorities, refundable on the successful
attainment of a new permanent employment contract with a new company.

This way workers would remain ‘on the books’ as far as national
authorities are concerned, would not have to make last minute visa-runs in order
to remain legally resident, and have the added incentive of enticing people interested
in staying in the region freely available for job interviews or even extended trial
periods. This would help local businesses and the job-seekers alike.

Scanning through the recent quarterly and annual results on ArabianOilandGas.com
in January, each of the major listed firms in the upstream and oilfield service
space outlined just how strong, and important to their bottom line, their Middle East work was. Almost all of the CEOs, in their accompanying
statements reinforced the mantra, or at the very least, hinted that the operations
here would be growing, and with it, the local office headcounts.

This is great news for regional upstream workers. After a period
which may have felt like retrenchment for many, the local upstream sector is back
to its buoyant self of a few years ago. This will obviously present lots of residents
with exciting career development opportunities, not necessarily with their current

This region remains an extremely attractive proposition to workers
from all over the world. And yet talent retention is once of the perennial problems
managing directors and CEOs have been telling me about for years. Perhaps by giving
people a short reprieve to find the right role, everyone would benefit.

Daniel Canty, is the editor of Oil & Gas Middle East.

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