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UAE’s retailers open up opportunities for temps

Having part-time staffers and interns do routine tasks also helps them keep HR costs down

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Retail groups are anxious to trim staff-related costs that could represent anywhere up to 15 per cent of the total expenses, depending on the scale of operations.
Gulf News

Looking for a job in retail? Try temping.

With more retailers in Dubai willing to take on temporary staffers, it is opening up a world of opportunities for those job seekers who want to add up their work experiences. Or those biding their time before landing a full-time job that meets their aspirations.

According to retailers, with their rental expenses showing no sign of stabilising let alone decline, the best way to counter cost inflation is to rely less on full-time employees and make do with temps where possible. Staff-related costs could represent anywhere up to 15 per cent of the total expenses for a retail group, depending on the scale of operations.

Whether it be at in-store kiosks or for short duration marketing or launch activations, temps are what retailers want. “Having temps may not work well in an in-store environment, because that requires a lot of hands-on experience and brand awareness,” said a retailer. “But anywhere else that a retailer wants to be seen and make an initial contact with a consumer, temps are good.”

The city’s hypermarkets are already seeing fairly heavy in-store activity related to brands or new launches. Banks, for their credit card programmes, and pay-TV providers have been tapping these services for some time now. Even malls are starting to see temps making a pitch for all manner of products.

And temps with enough experience on their CVs can take away anything between Dh250-Dh500 a day. In a retail marketplace which experienced a severe contraction in consumer spending and in job losses among full-time staffers, that’s a take-home package that entices many. In a good month, they are likely to be contracted for anywhere up to 15 days and more.

And unlike even five years ago, there is a much wider base of the young who have passed out of local colleges and taking their first tentative steps into the world of job options. Local laws are also turning more favourable in allowing businesses to take on interns.

It is also turning profitable for businesses that seek to connect temps with potential part-time employers. “But there is still a lot of fragmentation… you see a lot of short-term activation companies around,” said Mahesh Shahdadpuri, CEO of Tasc Outsourcing. “Going forward there will be a lot more of specialisation coming through and much of it will happen in the online space.”

Tasc has gone live with its online outsourcing portal, where potential employers can sift through multiple CVs and find one that matches their immediate needs. Apart from retail-specific experience, temporary front-office and accounting openings are also highlighted.

“Unlike the three to four weeks it takes businesses to clear the paperwork and visa for a full-time employee, they can select a candidate that meets their requirements and have them working within half a day,” said Shahdadpuri. “These candidates are all vetted by the portal when they make their submissions and they also get to put up [pre-recorded short] videos where they talk about their experiences and why somebody should choose them.”

Currently, Tasc’s online site has about 50 candidates, with average work experience of one to five years. The portal might also weigh the possibility of uploading credentials of interns at a later date.

Are there other categories that could see a temp invasion apart from retail? It all depends on how far businesses are willing to outsource and what sort of activity in such circumstances.

But there is one service sector where temps are unlikely to show up in force — in F&B. “It might look easy from the outside — but this is a highly service-focussed industry and those skills cannot be taught overnight,” said an F&B operator. “Those skills can be learnt from constant 24x7 exposure… and not for temps.”

Temps and interns claim their role in the workforce

•  In October last, the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority introduced regulation that allowed its 4,500 business tenants to offer part-time employment to 26,000 university students. The Authority oversees nine clusters.

•  According to local regulations, anyone who is above 18 years and on family sponsorship can take on part-time work. They will work on part-time permits and will need an NoC from the sponsor.

 Since 2010, the UAE’s Labour Law has provisions that allow employees to opt for part-time jobs along with a full-time one.

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