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Companies in the UAE are getting back gradually in offering pay packages on par with what they were before the pandemic. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Here's the bad news - salaries will remain under intense pressure in the UAE job market even next year. But there are some roles that will still be able to hold their own, and human resources management is one of them.

And the good news? Even with higher unemployment, 73 per cent of companies surveyed by the consultancy Robert Half are offering remuneration packages that "meet or exceed pre-pandemic numbers".

Nearly five-in-ten senior managers surveyed said salaries have held steady since the spread of COVID-19 began, and nearly 26 per cent saw an increase in base compensation for key roles in accounting and finance, financial services, technology and HR.

Worst case scenario

Based on all available evidence, the worst-case scenarios for job losses hasn’t materialized, according to Robert Half. In July, estimates were suggesting “around 10 per cent of the expat community would return home due to spiraling living costs and low job opportunities, causing a deficit of 900,000 jobs. The worst-case prediction didn’t occur.”

Selective shelling out

Bonuses are still being shelled out, but selectively. Just over half the managers surveyed are making payments that either meet or exceed their pre-COVID-19 equivalents, while 38 per cent are offering less, year-on-year.

“Workers have been stretched to the limit during the pandemic, often putting in longer hours, taking on additional responsibilities, acquiring new skills and using recent months to reassess their career priorities," said Gareth El Mettouri, regional Associate Director at Robert Half, which brought out the 2021 UAE Salary Guide.

“Although some sectors clearly had to downsize due to the COVID-19 crisis, many showed resilience by adapting quickly to the new business reality. “All of these developments likely foreshadow how we will work in the post-pandemic era. The future of work has not only arrived, it’s here to stay.”

Who's recruiting?

* Not surprisingly, anything to do with ecommerce is hiring, as are telecoms and healthcare. Insurance too is getting a leg up, while utilities and distribution are the other sectors adding to the workforce.

* HR consultants, legal managers, finance and business analysts are in "high demand". "There is a clear shift in the skillsets being sought by hiring managers, with an uptick in demand for ‘soft’ skills such as agility, creativity and communication alongside core technical competencies."