UAE witnesses ‘wave of talent migration’ amid job market bounce back

The UAE job market is seeing a “wave of talent movement” across sectors post-pandemic, with more people moving into e-commerce and technology, new research shows.

The new trend has led human resource experts to flag talent retention as the next big challenge amid the bounce back in the job market in the country.

Job portals including LinkedIn, Bayt and others are seeing a spike in the number of roles advertised by new age business players, shows market research by Seintiv Talent Solutions, a global consulting firm headquartered at Dubai.

“Even talent from traditional companies are either moving to these new age businesses or are getting hand-picked,” the report revealed.

E-commerce, FinTech, HealthTech, EduTech, technology, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) and consulting firms are among the companies that employees are looking to move in to as they pursue “futureproof-skill” jobs, the report said.

“While businesses are recovering, high potential talent is in high demand. Talents within the country with shorter notice periods are easy targets for employers looking for talent deprived from bonus and incentives, yet survived in the crisis,” Saikat Mukherjee, vice president, Seintiv Talent Solutions, told Arabian Business.

The Seintiv study has also revealed a bounce back in the UAE job market with 30 percent more jobs added in January-March 2021 over the same period a year ago.

Confirming the latest trend of employee movement, the Dubai-based global human resource head of a large corporate group said the ongoing migration of talent in the UAE has two parts: skill migration and inter-company migration.

“First, the people working in traditional businesses within the Middle East are realising that their skills may be fast outdated. The pandemic has catalysed a shift of transactional work getting quickly automated and the traditional jobs getting a new coat of paint in the form of the much required new age skills on the digital, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and the bio-science side of things. Hence employees are shifting to either up skill themselves within their current place of work, if it promotes re-skilling as a business strategy.

“Secondly, they are looking for new opportunities that give them the required ‘futureproof-skill’ experience, by moving to e-commerce and digital platform-based organizations,” said the human resources head, who wished not to be identified because of internal communication policy guidelines.

The human resources head also pointed out that countries like the UAE are fast emerging as the destination for new age businesses looking to set up base in a politically neutral environment where there are few barriers to starting or expanding a business.

“The same trend is being seen with senior talent which may have been out of favour in the US and other developed countries to seek Dubai as their next ‘career home’, given its quality of life and tax-free income,” he said.

Talent search experts said only the UAE is currently hiring expats, while other GCC countries such as Kuwait and Saudi are hiring domestically, using nationals and expats already in the country to fill roles due to the pandemic.

Saikat Mukherjee, vice president, Seintiv Talent Solutions
On the challenges of employee retention, Mukherjee said their research shows that the companies that have managed their talent strategy well to retain employees during the pandemic are the ones which are recovering first.

“With multiple digital technology businesses emerging or growing [in the UAE], the demand for talent in this area will also keep increasing, making employee retention the biggest challenge in the recovery phase,” he said.

“The upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai is also expected to attract a lot of investors to the country, boosting the job market further,” he added.

“With our global partnership network, we are working with our clients [in the UAE] with a sense of urgency to implement engagement and retention models that can secure good talent,” Mukherjee said.


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