With reporting by Shabina Khatri and Lesley Walker
Though some of Qatar’s largest companies and organizations are laying off thousands of employees, other firms here have continued adding to their headcounts, two new reports suggest.
More than 50,000 expats joined Qatar’s labor force between April and September 2015, an increase of nearly 3 percent, according to an analysis of the most recently available government statistics.
At the same time, fewer unemployed expats in Qatar reported that a lack of job opportunities was preventing them from working.
Separately, a Bayt.com survey of Qatar residents found that 53 percent of employed respondents said their organization had hired new staff in the last three months.
The report, prepared jointly by the job board and research firm YouGov, surveyed 114 working residents of Qatar. It also found that 57 percent of employed respondents believed their organization would be hiring additional staff over the next three months.
The news is likely to be of little comfort to many expats who have already lost their jobs here, some of whom have been forced to uproot their families and leave Qatar before the end of the school year.
There is also no indication that the newly created jobs pay as much as the ones that are being eliminated.
Low oil price
During the past couple of years, persistently low prices of oil have hurt the bottom line of energy companies and led to layoffs at Qatar Petroleum and RasGas. It’s also eroded government revenues and spurred budget cuts at publicly funded organizations as well as layoffs at institutions such as Hamad Medical Corp.
While the Bayt.com survey said employers are looking for managers, engineers and other professionals, real estate watchers have reported an uptick in vacancy rates among luxury and mid-range apartments, as well as residential compounds.
This suggests the growth in Qatar’s workforce is being driven by the labor-intensive construction sector and blue-collar workers who typically live in labor camps or low-end accommodations.
However, at least two engineering firms as well as an American university have told Doha News that they are both laying off and hiring employees as they restructure their operations.
Project management firm Astad said its recruiting efforts “far exceeds departures of any kind.” In a statement to Doha News last month, the company said:
“The nature of our business, and indeed the industry, is for natural attrition and staff departures as projects end and are delivered to our clients. Consequently, as new clients come on board then our recruitment efforts increase accordingly.”
Similarly, Atkins said it has laid off some 100 of its 2,000 employees based in the Middle East, including an unspecified number in Qatar. However, it continues to post new job opportunities.
“We’re a large and diverse company so it’s part of the normal course of business that some areas will continue to grow, while other parts are being impacted by market uncertainty,” spokesperson Ben Thompson told Doha News.
Meanwhile, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar said in September that budget cuts had forced it to eliminate “some” positions while creating other new roles. Affected employees were encouraged to apply for the newly created roles, the school said at the time.