UAE professional hiring index: 2015 set to be a talent short year for UAE

The latest Robert Half Professional Hiring Index provides insights and trends into the UAE hiring market

  • 40% of UAE HR directors are planning to increase hiring of permanent, professional employees in the first six months of 2015
  • 80% of HR executives say it is a challenging environment to find skilled professional-level employees and 72% are concerned about losing top performers

Dubai, 25 January 2015 – Four in ten (40%) HR directors plan to expand hiring in the UAE, with their companies set to add new positions, in the first six months of 2015 according to the latest Professional Hiring Index1 (‘the Index’) from Robert Half UAE.  While four points lower than six months prior, the research highlights that the labour market continues to expand, despite the lower price of oil and its impact on the region.

The Index reveals that another 45% of HR directors plan to maintain hiring levels, by filling vacated positions when they arise. Just 5% of HR executives believe their company will reduce their overall headcount over the period and less than one in 10 (9%) believe their company will freeze hiring in the next six months, by not filling vacant positions or creating new ones.   

UK HR directors were asked, “What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professional-level employees in the next six months? Would you say you are…”


H1 2015 (Jan-June)

H2 2014 (July-Dec)

Expanding – adding new positions



Maintaining – only filling vacated positions



Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones



Reducing – eliminating positions



*Survey does not equal 100 due to rounding

Employee retention continues to be a major concern for HR professionals as the labour market heats up. Nearly three quarters (72%) of HR executives are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year and this will see pressure on employers to increase salary and benefits packages in order to retain them. This is likely to drive broader wage inflation through 2015 and beyond.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director, Robert Half UAE said: “The Middle East employment market has been undergoing a shift, where international economies are strengthening and therefore competing for the most skilled international talent. This coupled with the instability of the price of oil may be prompting some companies to carefully consider their hiring plans for the first half of the year. However, others are taking the opportunity to augment their teams in a bid to drive profitability and growth and are turning to specialist recruitment consultants to uncover the hidden job market, both in the UAE and abroad.”

The war for talent is set to increase dramatically in the next 12 months, as the ongoing skills shortage in the labour force continues.  Eight in 10 (80%) HR professionals say it is a challenging environment to identify skilled professional-level employees for their organisation, with a quarter (25%) stating it is very challenging.  

A lack of niche technical experts was cited by nearly half (48%) of HR directors surveyed as the reason they were struggling to recruit appropriate personnel for their organisation.  Increasing competition between employers was a significant factor, with 30% of respondents stating demand was outstripping supply for candidates. Systemic problems regarding the development of suitable recruits for the job market are still posing a problem for employers.  Less than one in six (15%) HR professionals believe it is challenging to fill positions because candidates still lack the fundamental commercial and business skills required for their organisation. 


Notes to editors

1      The bi-annual study was developed by Robert Half and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 75 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UAE, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location. 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Robert Half again was named to FORTUNE® magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies" list, ranking #1 in our industry. Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at