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Tue 24 Jan 2017 01:49 PM

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More than a third of GCC employers cut jobs in 2016

Report by recruitment firm Hays claims GCC jobs market will see uptick in activity during 2017

More than a third of GCC employers cut jobs in 2016

More than a third of GCC employers experienced job cuts within their organisations in 2016, a report shows.

Recruitment consultant Hays’ latest annual Salary and Employment Report says that 37 percent of employers reported a reduction in headcount, compared to 17 percent of respondents in 2015.

However, the study predicts that the GCC hiring market will pick up this year following a period of stagnation.

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents said their organisations were planning to recruit additional headcount in 2017, Hays said.

More than half (55 percent) of employers said they would consider changing jobs - similar to last year's figure of 57 percent. However, respondents’ salary expectations remained flat for 2017, with 82 percent anticipating that salaries in their organisations would either remain the same or increase by up to 5 percent.

This is still more optimistic than last year’s outlook, Hays said, where 9 percent of respondents claimed to have experienced a pay cut, 52 percent said their salary had remained the same and 39 percent said they saw an increase.

The report, based on a survey of over 2,700 GCC-based working professionals, notes that the fresh optimism among employers follows a challenging year for the job market in 2016, as companies tightened budgets in response to weak oil prices and decreased spending on resources.

“We have certainly noticed companies adopting a more strategic and cost-conscious approach to spending on employee remuneration and the hiring of additional headcount,” said Chris Greaves, managing director of Hays, Gulf region.

“Workforce salaries are one of the single biggest costs for employers and, given the challenging economic climate of the past twelve months, it is simply not  viable to offer company-wide pay rises.

“Instead, we have seen added focus to be on individual performance related pay, which typically amounts to a lower spend for employers than company-wide pay increases.”

However, Greaves said given that most companies are in the position where they have already made necessary redundancies to cut costs, they are now “operating on minimum staff levels and are in a position to hire additional headcount to meet their 2017 objectives”.

Specific job roles for which Hays has noticed rising demand include cybersecurity professionals, online payment experts and marketing content specialists, the report said.