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Dubai: Hiring for professionals with specialist skills in the UAE will increase next year, as organisations implement wide-scale projects, including the introduction of a new tax system.

Among those that will be in demand are tax managers, credit controllers, anti-money laundering specialists and executive assistants. Not only will there be more vacancies, applicants with the right mix of skills can also expect attractive salaries.

These are some of the insights offered by recruitment specialists Robert Half on Monday, as it unveiled its latest report on starting wages and hiring trends in key industries.

“In the coming year, businesses will be seeking to retain a competitive advantage while preparing for the challenges which lie ahead,” said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at  Robert Half UAE.

“Digital transformation, diversification  from the reliance on the oil industry and a new VAT regime have solidified the importance of finding the right candidate.”

Companies in the UAE are gearing up for the implementation of the value-added tax (VAT) in January 2018. Paul Drum, head of policy at CPA Australia said earlier this month that around 5,000 finance and accounting vacancies will open up within the GCC as a result of VAT implementation.

Accounting and finance

Within the accounting and finance field, jobseekers with a high level of experience in the Gulf are more likely to attract employment offers.  “Candidates with five to ten years’ industry experience will be the most sought after, with GCC experience proving the most valuable skill,” said Robert Half.

Top 3 most in-demand roles for 2018/ predicted starting salaries:

Tax managers (large company): $92,000 - $141,000
Financial planning and analysis directors (large): $164,500 - $238,200
Credit controllers (small company): $52,200 - $65,500     


And as companies jump on the digital transformation bandwagon, there will be more staff required to fill roles in the information technology department. Highly desirable are candidates who have the ability to manage large-scale projects, as well as those with analytical and logical skills, and knowledge in business functions.

Driving up the demand for candidates with specialist skills in technology is the rise in the number of entrepreneurs setting up digital retail businesses. There are opportunities in other companies as well, with nearly half of businesses (48 per cent) looking to focus on the implementation of new technologies next year, along with talent management and company growth.

Top 3 most in-demand roles for 2018/ predicted starting salaries

Project/programme managers: $98,100-$163,500
Business systems analysts: $56,600 - $100,900
Application developers: $52,300 - $121,000

Financial services

Applicants who want to pursue a career in the financial services industry won’t get disappointed either. Roles that will be hugely popular in this field are compliance officers, anti-money laundering specialists and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) associates.

According to Robert Half, the industry is witnessing a “transformative shift,” with about eight in ten (80 per cent) of banks looking to implement blockchain projects before this year end.

“Cybercrime and economic instability are also having an impact, increasing the need for professionals with better analytical skills and a surplus of qualifications for any given role.”

Top 3 most in-demand roles for 2018/ predicted starting salaries: 

Compliance Officers: $58,900 - $91,600
Anti-Money Laundering Specialists: $68,700 - $122,600
M&A Associates: $114,600 - $192,100 

Human resources and administration

Next year will also see a high demand for staff that can handle employee relations, organise resources, screen and place workers. “Human resources and administrative staff have become the backbone of UAE business, especially now that digital transformation projects are beginning to take effect, changing the nature of work,” said Robert Half. “As a result, businesses are investing heavily in the training, development and retention of HR and administration departments.”

Top 3 most in-demand roles 2018/ predicted starting salaries

Head of HR:  $114,400 - $128,500
HR Business Partner: $ 78,700 - $ 81,700
Executive Assistants:  $ 53,000 - $ 58,900