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Job openings, salary expectations, and MENA career goals 2021

Moving into 2021, which sectors will be hiring and which will continue to struggle?

The airline industry has been gradually seeking to rebuild its network Hospitality is back to selective recruiting Among job categories, the drop in employment was most severe for teachers and catering professionals

Switching jobs has been key to survival in the GCC. 

Many cabin crew who lost their jobs have transitioned to real estate brokerage roles. Among teachers facing job losses or unpaid leave, admin and secretarial roles have been common destinations. Meanwhile, many catering professionals who were made redundant have taken up employment in customer service roles.

The pandemic has also pushed many into home-based freelance jobs or entrepreneurship.  

Moving into 2021, which sectors will be hiring and which will continue to struggle? 

Will pre-COVID-19 salaries come back for hopeful candidates across the GCC and UAE?

What do employees want from themselves and their future employers? 

We answer these and more below.

Read: Professionals in the GCC are changing careers just to keep a job, thanks to COVID-19

Sectors hiring

Since the resumption of flights, the airline industry has been gradually seeking to rebuild its network.  

It has always been a major draw for job seekers and even people employed in other sectors are showing interest in switching jobs for a career in the airline industry.

The technology sector is always looking for fresh talent.

Apple, the US technology giant, was recently hiring for different roles in the UAE at its 3 stores located in Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall in Dubai, and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.

The iPhone, MacBook, and iPad maker advertised for specialists in diverse roles such as store manager, operations manager, creative individuals, technicians, business development managers, etc.

In a recent survey, conducted by Forbes magazine and market research firm Statista, Apple was rated the sixth-best employer in the world.

Jobs are also once again being created – and filled – for senior executive roles, and also at the entry-level for positions related to logistics and e-commerce.

According to Korn Ferry International, hospitality is back to selective recruiting, despite being one of the worst-hit sectors following the pandemic. “We will see a rebound in hiring activity in hospitality and retail as we see higher spending by local residents along with higher tourist in-flows,” said Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director at Korn Ferry.

During the pandemic, a handful of professions saw employment demand increase, notably medical staff who enjoyed a 19% increase in demand, followed by logistics professionals at 12%, thanks to the rapid growth of online shopping.

Telesales also saw a boost in demand due to the restrictions on travel and face-to-face meetings.

ReadHow to stand out from the crowd when job hunting during COVID-19

Sectors struggling…

Employment in Dubai’s real estate market has been largely dependent on off-plan developments and the like. But with developers turning shy on launches, this sector could see more jobs churned in the coming weeks. 

Also retail is still far removed from any full-scale recovery. Some of the biggest retail groups still have a sizeable percentage of their workforce on furlough.

Construction is another sector that could likely see another tough year.

Middle East online recruitment firm, GulfTalent, found that the average number of interview invitations per active jobseeker was down by almost 50% for some segments of the market.

Among job categories, the drop in employment was most severe for teachers and catering professionals, seeing their interview invitations collapse by 48% and 35% respectively. Most other professions saw moderate drops in demand – including engineers and lawyers, followed by marketing, IT, finance, and HR professionals.

Salary expectations

“Go easy on salary expectations, but expect more flexibility on benefits.” That’s what job prospects are hearing more of from HR managers.

Candidates eyeing a new job will see “hiring managers revisiting other parts of the compensation package such as additional vacation days, flexible working hour schedules, and advancing career prospects from where the candidate is today.”

According to the recruitment tracking portal GulfTalent, in the nine months since the pandemic struck, there has been a 24% drop in salaries advertised compared to a year earlier.  

In a global survey by Korn Ferry, it was found that a third of organizations are planning salary increases to less than 50% of their employees. And more than three times as many organizations as last year were planning to skip increases altogether. 

But more companies are willing to go back to paying the full salaries after they implemented 30% wage cuts on average starting from April 2020.

Career goals 2021

A new survey by Bayt.com spotlights the career goals MENA professionals will focus on in 2021. 

The 2021 New Year’s Resolutions Poll reveals that a majority of MENA professionals (80%) feel positive about 2021 and 74% of the survey respondents have made resolutions for the new year.

Finding a new job emerges as the top career-related resolution for 75% of respondents, followed by improving skills and productivity (15%) and getting a promotion or a salary raise (8%).

Prospective candidates will focus on key attributes including career growth opportunities (38%), flexible work arrangements (25%), competitive salaries (14%), work-life balance (14%), and working with a reputable company or brand (8%). 

81% will spend more time looking for remote jobs in 2021, using online job sites (77%), company websites (10%), social media (7%), and virtual job fairs (2%).