Gulf desperately seeks construction managers – and half a million more skilled workers

23 April 2014

No sooner has the Gulf’s recovery got properly under way than it is being choked by the tightening labour market in the construction sector, a survey commissioned by a Dubai think tank has found.

The Workforce Planning Study, which was conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), found that the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) are facing a combined manpower shortfall of up to 500,000.

The study also revealed that the workers most in demand will be experienced project and construction managers, followed by civil engineers. Among entry-evel employees, health and safety skills were identified as the ones most lacking.

The resurgent construction market has also provided a need for skilled trades such as M&E engineers and plumbers.

Construction is a hugely important sector throughout the GCC member states of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

The manual labour force is being sourced from the Indian subcontinent, but more workers of all kinds will be needed in the Gulf (Imre Solt/Wikimedia Commons)

All states are engaged in huge infrastructure and housing programmes, and all require major inputs of labour. Manual workers tend to come from the Indian subcontinent, whereas managerial and professional staff are more of a global workforce.

The real estate and construction sectors contributed 21% of Dubai’s growth in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Dubai Economic Outlook report, and accounts for 8% of the emirate’s overall GDP.

Dubai has concluded the year 2013 with real GDP growth estimated at 4.7% according to the Dubai Economic Department (DED).

Current forecasts show that Dubai expects to add 100,000 new residents per year, according to the Dubai Statistics Centre, and annual tourist arrivals that are expected to more than double to at least 20 million under the tourism vision 2020.

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