Dubai: The teaching profession is seeing the sharpest rise in recruitment activity, providing some much needed boost for UAE’s job marketplace.
The imminent start of the new academic year for schools following Asian syllabus is part of the reason for the spike in new hiring.
“There is a lot of movement in schools for replacement hiring if teachers or teaching assistants are going back after a few years in the UAE,” said Vijay Gandhi, regional head at the consultancy Korn Ferry Digital. “Although the academic year at Asian schools end later this month - and in July for western curriculum schools - we are seeing these institutions gear up for the return of students to have face-to-face classes in the new academic year.”
But salary and other perks remain unchanged. It’s going to be a crunch year for schools and academic institutions as they look for a reset from COVID-19 related changes in their operations. Managements will be hoping that they have seen the worst phase of students being forced to leave after their parents suffered job losses or had to go through a drastic reduction in their incomes.
The coming weeks will offer insights into how well – or otherwise – schools have managed to retain their student base. But for now, their focus is on putting together the faculty.
“Schools will be among the first to benefit from a future pickup in economic activity and new jobs being – now is the time to rebuild,” said the owner of a leading school in Dubai.
Strict guidelines on number of mall and store visitors allow retailers to operate with fewer sales staff. “For the near future, the sector will have to make do managing with a reduced workforce,” said the head of operations at a leading retail group. “Even if retailers add more to their online operations, it will not lead to more recruitment. Most of the current staff will be re-purposed or re-skilled.”
Tough for new graduates
But for fresh prospects from the Class of 2020, new openings are harder to come by. “With the extended period of contraction (for the economy), employers will take time to open up graduate enrolments,” said Gandhi.
“Even with positive economic action with the coming of the COVID-19 vaccines, it will take far longer for normal consumer behaviour to return. As such, globally we have seen unemployment among new college graduates will remain high, with many 2020 graduates still unemployed.”
A sentiment voiced by Umer Lakhani, a newly minted undergrad in Dubai. "It’s been difficult to find internship - even entry-level positions - this year. Many candidates have not even heard back, and the few that I know who managed to get part-time work are either in low skilled jobs, or self-employed such as offering tutoring services."
The best options then for these graduates? Take up internship openings whenever the chance appears.
“The most important skillset for 2021’s graduating college seniors is networking,” said Gandhi. “Their ability to interact and take up work experiences through internships or project-based roles will be a way in which they will enter the workforce.”
In other key sectors, recruitment is happening only a strict need-to basis. Real estate could see more job losses if offplan sales continue to decline as new projects dry up. Any big consolidation by developers will lead to cutting out overlapping roles and positions. It could be summer before there’s more clarity for real estate job prospects.
The upcoming PMI (purchasing managers index) number for Dubai’s private sector activity from the global research firm IHS Markit should provide some indication on job prospects. Last month provided a jolt as jobs came under further pressure, based on feedback from businesses.
For those who have lost jobs in recent months and looking for an option, if they are fortunate enough to get an opening, be prepared to get less.
“We are seeing candidates being trying to get back at 15-20 per cent lower salaries, particularly at the clerical and supervisory level,” said Gandhi. “But we aren’t seeing much of reduced compensation at the senior executive level, where demand for experienced and specialized talent still remains high.”