Salaries for professionals working in the construction industry are still likely to increase this year despite a slowdown in the sector, says the recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley.
The company is predicting a 2 to 5 per cent salary increase for individuals working for main contracting groups.
Its Salary Guide 2016 UAE survey indicates that a project manager with three to five years of experience in the industry can typically expect a salary of Dh40,000 to Dh42,000 per month, while those with more than eight years of experience can expect Dh45,000 to Dh48,000.
Project directors with greater than eight years’ experience can expect Dh55,000 to Dh60,000 per month and managing directors, from Dh85,000, for a new role, to more than Dh100,000 per month for the most experienced people.
Niall Hughes, a senior consultant at Morgan McKinley, said there had been a slowdown in the number of roles available since the first half of last year. “Hiring is definitely down – anything from maybe 10 to 15 per cent, maybe 20 per cent in certain areas. But the one thing we are finding is that employers are being a lot more particular in terms of what they want,” he said.
Since companies are making fewer hires, they are also much more choosy about who they bring in, Mr Hughes said, with GCC experience almost a prerequisite and experience of working in major contracting companies also preferred, because it is generally bigger companies that are still taking on new staff.
“They have to give a little bit of an increase to get these guys,” said Mr Hughes. “A year ago, [a candidate] could demand a 20 per cent increase. If a project manager was on Dh50,000 a month, he’d look for Dh60,000 or more to move – and in a lot of cases he would get it. That’s not really happening now.”
He said that 5 to 10 per cent increases are more likely but that in many cases people were moving for the same salary if they deem the new employer’s clients to be more secure, or if they will be working on a project with a longer time frame.
Phillip Carr, the managing director of the Dubai recruitment company ICP Gulf, said he did not envisage any increase in salaries paid to new recruits this year, particularly as there are candidates looking to move from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where budgets have tightened, back to the UAE. In the former, stories of widespread non-payment by government clients have been rife.
“It’s busy enough, there are just a lot of companies trying to serve the construction market. So when it’s not incredibly busy, you have too many companies,” Mr Carr said.
“Half of them are very busy and half of them aren’t.”
He said employers know this and generally would not increase salaries for new hires.
“If you’re talking to a guy who’s getting laid off and he wants a new job, if he’s earning Dh50,000, and he doesn’t want to go to Qatar or Saudi, he’ll take Dh50,000 – he might even take a bit less to stay in Dubai.
“I’m not saying that salaries are going down but the candidate will accept the same salary if he can manage to get a secure job in the UAE rather than go anywhere else.”
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