GCC employers who are looking to hire hundreds of thousands of new recruits in the next 12 months are also projecting an average 9 percent increase in salaries, according to a new study.
The first MENA Labour Market Confidence Index reveals that while the majority of the 1,250 GCC companies and organisations surveyed pointed to moderate and cautious recruitment strategies, collectively they expected to hire 421,250 new employees for 2014-15.
The report said that healthcare leads the way in terms of increased headcount expectations, followed closely by construction and hospitality - three industries traditionally dependent on expatriate labour.
But the three markets indicating the clearest signs of labour force expansion - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Northern Emirates of the UAE - are increasingly focusing on accelerating regulatory amendments to support nationalisation, reducing their historic reliance on foreign workers.
The study was conceptualised by Informa, organisers of the three-day HR Summit & Expo which is running in Dubai this week.
Based on research by The Talent Enterprise, the MENA Labour Market Confidence Index said salary increase projections remained quite balanced across all levels of seniority at an average of nine percent, keeping in mind merit-based pay as well as cost of living adjustments.
The study said that, with over 60 percent of the population under the age of 30 years in the region, the talent of young people offers "the greatest productive opportunity since the discovery of oil and gas in the middle of the last century".
"Alarmingly, youth across the region are facing an early mid-career crisis, with those under 25 and between 25 to 34 years of age showing the lowest levels of engagement and motivation amongst all age groups," said the report. "This has a direct impact on their performance, productivity and contribution to their jobs."