The Middle East has always been attractive for investors and job seekers alike because of the fast-paced growth in the region. The recruiting market is highly competitive in sectors such as the fashion and tourism industry due to the influx of great demand here.

Recruiting in the Middle East, although keeping up with the increasing vacancies, still consumes the majority of resources in the HR department. Apart from this, a few general issues are prevailing in companies when it comes to acquiring human capital. Let’s look at some specific issues that cause major headaches for HR managers in this region.

Recruiting Issues in the Middle East
Shortage of available talent

Many jobs in the Middle East are created each year as a result of booming economies that continue to drive innovation forward. With oil and gas as a major industry along with banking, the number of available qualified and experienced job-seekers to fill the vacancies is lacking.

As reported by ManpowerGroup in a recent study, accountants, engineers and technicians are just some of the many specialists that companies are looking for within the region. Trying to keep in line with the quota of hiring locals to ensure that the distribution of local to expatriate employees changes from the highly imbalanced current of 5% national to 95% non-national (in countries including the UAE and Qatar), is proving to be difficult. Simply put, there aren’t enough local talents, which is another stress factor for HR managers as they have to fulfill the new rules of localisation.

Slow recruitment process

Another pain point in HR within the Middle East is the time it takes between receiving the application for a job posting and hiring someone for the job. For example, in the UK, a normal recruitment process would approximately take around 6 weeks, in comparison to 2 – 3 months in the Middle East.

Obstacles including visas issues for foreign employees and long hierarchical structures extend the time for which someone can start working. This puts a strain not only on the company, but also on the candidates involved as they have to withstand the wait for long periods of time, which can be especially frustrating while being unemployed.

Poor employee retention

Recruiting is one problem, but retaining talent within the company is a bigger issue in the Middle East at times. As the majority of employees are expatriates, they view their job within the region as more temporary rather than long-term given the circumstances regarding visas, suggests Jonathan Bennett, Middle East Director at Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). This makes it challenging for companies to find ways in which to retain those extremely qualified employees who anticipate a short-lived contract.

Next week, we will look at the status of how HR technology in the Middle East is being used currently in companies, and where improvements need to be made.

author: Jennifer Oberender, viasto