The dramatic decline in recruiting activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled many Gulf professionals to shift careers, according to the latest results of a well-known Middle East online recruitment portal.
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The survey compared the variations in interview invitations accepted by job seekers on the website over the nine months from March to November 2020 to the same period in 2019. It showed that the total number of interview invites per successful jobseeker had fallen by almost 50 percent for the market's specific sectors.
High-in demand & Low-in demand categories
Among job categories, the decline in jobs was most extreme for teachers and catering workers, with interview invites collapsing by 48% and 35%, respectively. Most other occupations have seen modest reductions in demand – including engineers and lawyers, led by marketing, IT, finance, and HR professionals.
In the meantime, a range of sectors has seen a rise in demand for workers since the pandemic – especially medical personnel with a 19 percent increase in demand, followed by logistics professionals with a 12 percent increase, due to the exponential growth of online shopping.
Sales employees have had a mixed effect, with those on telesales experiencing a rise in demand due to restrictions on travel and face-to-face meetings.
Among the economic sectors, the largest decrease in recruiting activity was in education, aviation, and hospitality. The only industries that improved recruiting activity compared to the same time last year were healthcare and logistics.
As far as location is essential, specialists working locally in the Gulf have had a smaller pandemic impact. Interview invites to applicants based in the UAE and Saudi Arabia declined by 14 percent and 3 percent, respectively. In contrast, Qatar's interviews rose by 17 percent as employers were no longer willing to fill vacancies with newly imported talent.
By contrast, candidates based in India and Pakistan pursuing opportunities in the Gulf have seen market declines of 46% and 41%, respectively, as flight cancellations and border closures have taken foreign recruiting to a deadlock. Similarly, there has been a slowdown in hiring from Egypt and Lebanon, Arab countries that are traditional recruitment grounds for Gulf employers.
The epidemic also resulted in a significant decrease in salaries, as the supply-demand balance changed to workers' benefits. The study of vacancies reported on the website within nine months of the pandemic's start indicates an average decline of 24 percent in the wages declared, relative to the same period last year. The wage decline was highest among the occupations most impacted by the pandemic, such as teachers and cooks. At the same time, the least affected positions had lower salary declines or no drop at all.
The pandemic's economic tightening has resulted in job losses, wage cuts, salary delays, and career instability for many Gulf expatriates. As a result, although many have fled the region, others have tried to maintain their residence and earnings by moving to alternate professions within the area, according to the study's findings.
Many cabin crews who have lost their jobs have switched to real estate consultancy positions. Among teachers facing work cuts or unpaid leave, admin positions and secretarial roles have become frequent destinations. In the meantime, several catering workers who have been terminated have taken up customer service jobs.
The pandemic has also forced millions into home-based self-employed employment or entrepreneurship. For the first time, some teachers mentioned teaching students privately from home via Zoom, while a limited but increasing number of people from diverse backgrounds are opening up online stores.
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