Hello and welcome to the Skills Provision podcast. On this podcast we discuss topics related to employment and international recruitment skills provision. We are an international recruitment agency believing in placing the right people in the right place, regardless of geographical restrictions. On today's episode, we are going to be talking about the Middle East. Now, how do we define the Middle East as everyone has slightly different interpretations. So countries that we're going to be talking about or the area we refer to as the Middle East are countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, united Arab Emirates and Yemen. OK, on today's podcast, joining me and I'm Francesca, we have Chris. Hello. We have Pete. Hi. And for the first time we have Nisma. Hello. Okay, so bit about skills provision in the Middle East. So we have been providing recruitment services and employment services to the Middle East pretty much since its inception, wouldn't you say? Chris not quite inception. We really got going in the Middle East about 2009, which was as a result of some accident happening elsewhere and the financial meltdown in North America with the closure of Layman Brothers. And we were discovered by parts of the educational community in the Middle East and we started sending teachers in around 2010. Okay, thank you. So education is just one area we have covered. Other industries that we have helped support are sales positions. So from regional sales directors down to unit sales managers, medical so, doctors, nurses, potential other specialisms within the health care realm, fast moving consumer goods and manufacturing is another industry that we've helped support hospitality. And in the last few years, another area that we've been quite involved with is household staff for private clients. Now Nisma, you do a lot of work in this area. Could you give some examples of the types of positions we're recruiting for in the Middle East? Well, actually we are involving in many, many rules in this area and we have deep experience in the skills just like private theaters, nannies, private chips, personal assistants, palace managers or property managers, drivers, secretaries, many positions we are involved in, and we have many experience in the skills of these type of candidates. Okay, thank you. Now, Pete, obviously you don't work on the recruitment side of things so much, but is there anything you feel is important for our listeners to know about skills provision in the Middle East, be that from candidate profiles or the website hi. Just gone back to it. Weren't we involved with the airport? Chris there are a few other sectors that we've done in the past. There was the King Carled International Airport where the people who won the contract struggled to find things like ambulance drivers and fire prevention marshals and things like that. And they came to us and we managed to sort it out for them in about six weeks, which was a great result. But we've done lots of things in the Middle East there's it stuff they're very much devotees of the German software packages, so that's another area and even we found railway engineers to help them construct the new fast links between the major cities. So lots and lots of things we've done over the years. I do remember the airport task, but it's one of the validation logos on one of the websites. One of the main reasons why we started looking at the International Improvement Network was indeed for the amount of people from the Middle East that were joining the skills provision website and the way they struggle with English. So it's not their first language, so they struggle with written and many areas in terms of presenting themselves as a strong candidate for international employment. So over the coming years, as we start introducing courses, free and paid English courses and employment based courses, qualifications and such like, we will start to see an improvement in the candidates that we're offering out there in the worldwide community. So really I think that from my side, what I've seen is, although it can be quite traumatic at times, wedding through all the applications into our system is there is an improvement in which is good, but it's a long way from being perfect. How people present themselves to would be international employers is something that not just the Middle East, middle east and Asia less so Africa, which is surprising, struggle to present themselves in a professional manner and almost like they're talking on the future. It's a WhatsApp chat with some of their friends as opposed to really drilling down their skills and professionally presenting themselves, which helps us place people and get employment. Okay, so obviously as we've been recruiting in the Middle East for some time, there has been some changes and there's been some different rules and regulations and different things that have come into play over the time we've been recruiting. But some of the challenges that we face back then, we still face now. So some of the challenges that we've kind of been discussing or we come up against regularly are and one of the hardest ones I personally find from our viewpoint. Because here at Skills Provision we pride ourselves in being an ethical recruiter and putting forward the right candidates for the right job regardless of the position, so long as a candidate obviously meets minimum requirements needed for a role. For example, we're not going to be putting forward someone to be a mechanic unless they have that previous experience. But something that is quite prevalent in the Middle East in culture is that of discriminating or being able to be very positively discriminative towards a particular type of candidate that they're looking for. Now, Chris, what has been your experience that you found with the discrimination when it comes to recruiting from the Middle East? I think you subdivided up it's positive discrimination. They say exactly what they want, which, from a recruiter's point of view, leaving the ethics on one side is helpful. Too often in other situations, you get a sort of story as to what somebody wants, and you only discover the real demands further down the track. Now, we got to accept around the world, societies will have different ways of operating. The Middle East does not subscribe to western ethical recruitment. That's their choice. It's our choice whether we wish to operate in the Middle East. Yes, and I think on that point, I think there are changes coming in terms of being more aligned to that Western way of thinking, and we'll come back to that a bit later on. But I think the same thing that you've made about them saying exactly what they want. Yes, sometimes that can be a positive, and it can lend itself to helping us find that exact candidate. But equally, being too narrowminded, potentially in the thinking can mean that your pool of potential candidates is very small, and again, of those, they may not have that desire or want to work in the Middle East. Now, Nisma, I know that for yourself, you are from Egypt. And in terms of your experience with regards to, say, discrimination, perhaps maybe even in your personal life or also in the Middle East, and when you're recruiting for, say, these household positions, what do you notice? Actually, I agree to press because sometimes discrimination is sometimes it's positive for us as recruiters because we know what exactly the employer needs, so we can help them on otherwise. What has changed in the few past years? Of course, the Maldives crisis about the economical side effect on what's happening there. In many countries such as Syria, Yemen, Egypt, many countries have many economical crisis there. So there are many candidates need to leave their country and to go to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United States, United Emirates, what that affects on us or other recruiters that we have many candidates to the employer. So in a parallel with the discrimination point of view, the employer decides to hire the one who accepts the lowest offer because there are many candidates, he is choosing between them, and he needs to find the lowest one he can pay him, the lowest he can accept. So this is the main point we are suffering from now, because sometimes salaries are not acceptable or not even. It's not fair. For example, if the rule will be accepted on $2,000, a candidate could accept $1,000 US, which will be a benefit for himself to change his life, and from the employer, he will be a benefit because it will be the lowest he can pay. Sometimes it's not fair enough. Sometimes make us as a recruiter, the employer said the candidate accept. Sometimes the candidate changed his mind after that. So this is a big change has happened, and we're really suffering from okay, so what you're saying is due to like economic impact in certain areas that salaries or pay and things, they're always looking to potentially save money where they can. And if there's a candidate that will accept a lower pay rate, that can often mean that they choose that candidate rather than it potentially being the candidate that is the best fit. They're looking for cost saving mechanisms. Exactly. That led to there is no opportunities for any fresh graduates, which we already used to have it previously. Employers in Saudi Arabia, for example, could accept fresh graduates, candidates with no experience, but on a higher level of education in health care sector, for example, the nurses or pediatrics, for example. This is the main two sectors that accepted fresh graduates previously, but now there is no opportunity for any fresh graduate. He must have at least two years of experience before working there. Okay, I agree with you, Nisma, that it's always cost first, quality second. It does seem to be the way in the Middle East. It's all part of the education for us as recruiters and also for them as employers as to what do they really want. At the end of the day, however, there is one thing we've not touched on is the availability of visas for various sorts of work. And certainly many of the countries within the GCC actually say to their employers, yes, you can employ X number, but we want you to employ them from Romania or Bulgaria. And they actually specify the countries that they can actually recruit people from because as a government entity, they want to try and ensure a balanced workforce. So we've got that to cope with as well. And on that, I think that kind of ties into a point of that. The Ministry of Human Resources and forgive me if I can't pronounce this word emiratization, they have kind of brought into those new rules what you're saying in terms of trying to really balance that workforce. And I've heard the same sort of term used for a man like Imanization and basically saying that per X amount of international or overseas workers that you have, there should be this amount of local or national workers to it. So, for example, if your organization has between zero and 50, you should have at least one national 51 to 102 nationals and so on and so forth. And it's trying to balance that because the Middle East, in my viewpoint, has become very much a melting pot and tried to take the best talent from around the world and get them all together. It does mean, as you've said, Ms. Moore, you said, Chris, that unfortunately, those that maybe are born and bred in those locations are not offered those same opportunities. Yeah, exactly. Also, you have raised another point of view, which is the visa. Actually, they have. It's something that has changed from previous years. Usually what we all know that a worker should travel on a work visa. Nowadays, some of these countries are providing visit visa for the candidates in order to save a lot of money. And they know that they will find many candidates who accept this. From my experience, I saw that this could be a positive and a negative issue. From the positive side, it's a safety for the candidate because once he traveled, if he didn't like the situation or didn't feel he is comfortable with the work or with the country, the nurture the employer, anything, he could return back to his country safely without any penalty or any charges. But also from the negative point of view, the employer sometimes is being aggressive with the candidate and the candidate could not say anything because he is not working legally in the country. And this is very known in many of the countries in the Middle East. If the candidate or the employer is not working legally, he doesn't have any rights. So sometimes this is also because of the number of candidates that are in the market for the employer. When they find many candidates, they know that they will accept their conditions even if it's not good. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not, and it's not fair. Just a point to mention here is the interest from Europe in working in the Middle East at mid to lower levels has contracted because of the bad reputation the Middle East has in terms of how they treat workers. High end workers, engineers, senior, it medics and so on, are rewarded appropriately according to Western standards. And those sort of people will still join to do things like cyber securityecurity or oil and gas type jobs. But in hospitality, there's been a real drop off in those that are interested in working in the Middle East because the employers do not treat them well. Here. I can remember a situation that happened with me. We were hiring four candidates from the UK to Saudi Arabia, and they are doctors, medical doctors, the hospital in Saudi Arabia, so that they are British candidates. And all the conditions and all the documentations and everything went upon the Western conditions when they arrived. One of the four was originally Sudanese from Sudan, and they surprised from his origin that he is not British. They decided to reduce his salary to the half in order he is not British. Yeah. So it's the double standards between the varying offers that depend on where someone is from rather than what their skill set is and what they can bring, and kind of something you both have touched on. And people see this in terms of with the adverts and seeing the adverts that we've seen go up on our website is the pay rate. Obviously, something that has always attracted people to going to the Middle East, especially the UAE and countries within the GCC is those tax free salaries. But a tax free salary alone is not enough to warrant someone's want or desire to leave a more safe, potentially environment in their home country. I think 1 second is allow me to finish. Is that with the benefits that companies offer in the Middle East, they sometimes think that this can be considered enough to entice an individual. But a lot of candidates, if they're looking to move internationally, are thinking about what can I be sending home to my family and what are those benefits for me of going there? Now we're seeing changes about Westernization and one of the countries that throughout the world has been portrayed in a particularly negative way can be Saudi Arabia. But we are seeing changes in that. And Pete, from your viewpoint, from someone who doesn't work, as I say, in the recruitment side, what do you kind of see as a challenge or what do you see as a person, maybe on a personal level? Again, the challenges of recruiting for the Middle East. I don't think there are challenges. I think that specific to a location, an employer. I think that as Chris touched on at the beginning, there are issues. They're more open in the Middle East, which helps with recruitment. The problems that they have in the Middle East, it's almost like they're so highly documented, but they're prevalent everywhere. I live in a very wealthy area in Yorkshire and there's a tremendous amount of racism, but it's so underground. Excuse me, almost not. And Chris is probably the same in his area, where probably the amount of migrants near Somerset is minimal, where the attitudes are wrong. Almost like power. Power is misused by employers, managers, to mistreat. And this is prevalent everywhere. When I was in the military and we went to places where Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, these people that had power didn't happily portray the way they mistreated their workers when we were around, or there was many of us because they didn't feel as confident to portray this. I'm the big man in Egypt. I worked on the near Cairo airport, on the airport complex, for three months. And every day I had to drive to this place, fill up some 2030 jerry cans. And the big officer in there, he made a big point show of coming out of a coffee or tea, this sugary tea, whatever they have, whilst he just screamed and showered his head off at the work. He had him running around, just the sake of running around, mainly to show off to me. And it's this mistreatment of it's just people. And clever people, like clever people in the Middle East, clever people in the west, clever people in the UK realize that by treating their workforce fairly, they will be the beneficiaries. More people will want to work for their companies, more good press will come from their companies. And the Saudis, who sort of detached themselves from this, even they're now starting to see that we want the big football competitions, we want the Formula One we want all this, they're going to have to change. And eventually, like with everything else, things will align. Generational changes will kick into place. And the people that misuse power the same as what in the Bulgaria, because we had a property over there, the way the powerful people, when the communist state was in place, were mistreating. Everyone behind the scenes, they'll just get phased out, they'll die off and they'll be replaced by young, just better people. People that want to treat their fellow man fairly. And that's what we're going to find in employers, that we're not going to change the world. People are not going to listen to, they're just going to go underground with it all and lip service is going to be paid and mistreatment. But in time, things are going to change and improve and there's going to be more migration and manpower. It won't matter where you're from, what qualification you've got, you will just be an asset that can go wherever you want to go, regardless if you're male, female, what book? I think that's the thing, isn't it? We'll move on to education of kind of employers and things in a second, but there's so many history, as with so many different things in completely different contexts, it's a hard job to change something in the immediate future, but we're seeing those changes and businesses that are willing to kind of subscribe to that idea of Westernizing. We all think, I would imagine we're probably all in agreement here, that when you are thinking about the Middle East and possibly the most welcoming country, everyone goes, oh, Dubai, because it's become the most Westernized. And you speak to candidates and they all say, oh, have you got an opportunity for us in Dubai? Or other countries within the UAE they may be open to, but one country I know that could often, as I say, have a negative connotation with is Saudi Arabia, and they are making changes. And Nisma, I'm going to ask you in a second about kind of the work that you're doing and how it feels and how the changes are. But Saudi is made up primarily. I think it's about a third of their workforce is made of foreign nationals. And with changes coming that they've kind of put in line for the 2030 Transformation Program. These changes will allow for workers that once their contract has expired, they'll be able to move to a different employer as opposed to their current challenges they face. Now, Nisma, the work that you're doing with employers in Saudi Arabia, what changes are you seeing in terms of becoming a more Westernized country? Yeah, actually, the Westernized idea has already been in their minds because they mindly said that Western people are something and the other people are something. This means that when you're speaking about a safe environment for the Europeans or Western people, it's not because it's not safe for British or Bulgarian or Albanian or any Western candidate. It's been very safe for them. But what's happening actually is the bad or digression that have been with the candidates from any other part of the world. With the Western idea, asians are facing the idea of why we don't take the same benefits, why we don't take the same safety. But what's actually happening is, as you said, the Western people are afraid or scared to move and leave their home countries, to be in those countries which is already safe for them. But what they are seeing and watching what's happening with other people make them feel that they are not safe. This is what's happening now for the Western idea. It's not actually happening in the same what's appearing behind the scenes. It's safe for them, but they are afraid. They are scared about themselves and this is the right because they are seeing what's happening with other people. Yeah. So what you're saying is that what they experience or what the media portrays is obviously a general feeling or general viewpoint on something, but actually that may not impact all workers and that the workers are treated differently depending on their country of origins. Now, Chris, are there any other challenges that you think or any other changes that you have seen in the Middle East when it comes to recruitment? Be that positive. Be that negative. One of the problems with negotiation with Arabs is actually getting them to the point where they make a commitment. It is not considered wrong in Arab culture to lie, and that is a difficulty if you're a Western negotiator because you're trained to tell the truth and you expect the same to come from the other side. There's also the speed at which Arab clients move. They either move at an absolute snail space and you can spend months on trying to develop a bit of business or they want to move at 100 miles an hour and want delivery of people yesterday, which is rarely achievable in international recruitment. I think the wish of the various governments in the different societies within the Middle East to have more work for locals is a good thing, but it is taking time for people to adapt to that and as somebody said, people paying lip service to it. I think that's very much the case at the moment. I think if an employer in the Middle East wants somebody from somewhere or another, they'll just go and get that person and basically to help with anything like what we understand to be ethical recruitment in the west. People are nervous about the Middle East and it's become worse since COVID and people don't want to be as remote from their homeland as they were prepared to be before COVID hit. And that isn't just a Middle East issue. We've got Eastern European people in Australia who are reluctant to stay in Australia because it's too far away from home. If they need to return so you've got all those sorts of issues as well. And I think in a post COVID world, unfortunately, during those times, which was difficult for everyone, regardless of geographical location, there were a lot of candidates whose visas were canceled or contracts are canceled and maybe didn't feel the level of support from employers. So there have been a bitterness left from that, moving this conversation forward and you kind of just touched on it. Is that Jessica? Could I just ask Chris a question? Chris, out of all the people that we've placed over the years, which is obviously a lot, how many have complained about employer mistreatment? Bear in mind the numbers that we place into the Middle East, measuring it as percentage terms, be a fraction of 1% that have actually complained. But remember, we probably go a lot further in checking out the employers before we start engaging with them in terms of finding the workers. And we do make it clear to potential candidates that they need to consider the location and the way people operate in that particular location, which we do, whether it's Middle East or America, it's the same process, basically, yes. So those that we've those that have complained are not all from the Middle East? No, they're not all from the Middle East. In fact, the abuse tends to be of international candidates. And we've skirted around the fact that Europeans as a generalization have treated better in the Middle East for the reasons that Nisma expressed, as opposed to Africans and Asians who are the true economic migrants struggling to survive. And that's a very good point that you raised there, the differential. But when you consider the pay, some of it is understandable. My son was out early last year working in Singapore in the dockyard. He was earning £550 per day. And the others of all denominations, manpower from everywhere they were on between 30 and 50. And it just shows you the vast range. I think that something that's kind of kind of lead me onto on that is that the reason the Middle East has become such a cosmopolitan mix of different people is they are wanting to bring the best. And their viewpoint is that those from Europe are considered the best. And how they define Europe also for themselves is more of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the UK, not including CIS, countries like Albania or places like that. But it comes back to the thing of education. And this is the next area I kind of want to cover, is education, not only of candidates, but also our education of employers. Now, taking your son's analogy, your son has been through training, through companies that I would assume have been predominantly based and provided within the UK, the training that he's undergone. So I imagine his skill set is that tom favorably compared to those who have maybe attended a similar qualification delivered in, say, Nigeria, for example, and equally against candidates within their own country and the level of education that they are being having or having delivered within the country. So whether that's Saudi, Oman or whichever country it may be, is that the lack of available local, well educated talent has struggled to meet the demands of the companies that have been moving their operations to those countries. And something that I believe there are changes undergoing is that increasing that level of education within those countries. Now, Chris, you were saying about I think it's, and forgive me if I get this wrong is that changes in the educational levels in the Middle East and doing the OIC's, and that 56 current members are located primarily in North Africa, the Northeast and South Asia, and they're looking to expand their educational offering and increase the quality of the delivery. Well, the Middle East has invested hugely in education and as an area, their education levels are higher than most other aspects. Most other countries in the world. It's going further than that. The organization that you touched on, they're now looking to collaborate together to see where else they can work together. The first news I've heard, which is sort of hot off the press and I've not seen it in the public domain as yet, is they're looking to cooperate on medical education because they like we are here in the UK or America or anywhere in the world struggling with healthcare shortages. But they seem to be actually getting their act together and are going to start doing something about it. We're aware of four universities that are going to be created in the Middle East to deal with some of these challenges. It may be it takes a couple of years for them all to get up and running, but it's all pointing in the right direction. And I think the educational experiences that we are lucky enough to have here in the west means that we have been afforded those luxuries to go to school until we're 16 or 18 and then, if needs be gone to university. We have these opportunities, whereas candidates in these countries or coming from the more economically deprived countries may have not had these opportunities, so therefore are looked on as a lesser worthy candidate for these higher paid positions and why they are offered lower rates than perhaps those from the west. But if they have no qualifications and they can't speak even English at a level, but they're used for things like cleaning or driving or something like that, they can't expect to get the full wage package of someone who maybe has one degree, five years of experience, has worked in a couple of countries and so on. Apples with apples. I was going to say you can't compare apples with pairs, but it is still the currency trends as we have with our Indian developers, where let's say it's five to one, or is it rupees to the pound or whatever it is, is. That taken into account when they're talking, when there's a massive difference in the economies and the value of each currency. Yeah, and I can understand both sides because it is depending on what a candidate is wanting to do. I suppose if you've got a candidate that comes out on their own and their intention is to be sending money back home, then that transactional thing, as you said, the value of what they have in one country is completely different to the value in the other. But if you're someone who's looking to go out, bring your family, bring your children, then the transactional side of that doesn't work out. And that's where those are not maybe afforded the same benefits as those that have come from the west. Perhaps. Now, in terms of kind of along that line, is the tax free salaries are not the unique selling point that perhaps, in my opinion, that I think they once were. It's all the additional benefits alongside that that I think employers are getting more and more switched on to. But that doesn't mean that just by having, I don't know, employee well being days as an example, does not mean that you can afford to pay 50% of what the going rate is for someone. For software engineering, for example, doesn't mean that just because you're offering this that you can then take away from the other side. Well, I would say for highly educated candidates, wherever they are in the world, they have a choice as to where they go to work, which could be anywhere if they've got the skills. For the poor, deprived people coming from somewhere like Bangladesh, where working in sweat factories at 50 p a day, then even if they only get three or £400 or the equivalent in a month, and free accommodation, free medical and all the rest of it, that's like a fortune to them. And one thing we've not actually stated, I'll state it here, is that the cost of living in different countries makes a hell of a difference. If you can survive in Bangladesh on 50 p a day, you're not buying your McDonald's six or £7 a pop, you're probably paying 50 p for your McDonald's. So all that is relative when people are considering opportunities. I think it will differ from the point of view of any candidate. Someone could choose the money and others could choose the lifestyle or the life expenses. For example, if he will choose the money, he will go to Gulf countries and then he will take, as Crest says, he will give a bulk of money each month. But if he looking for type of lifestyle or safer environment or something, he will choose the Western. For example. If we are talking about the highly educated candidates in health care sector, for example, they are hiring here in the UK. Many candidates from the Middle East and Africa and Asia that are highly educated and very qualified persons. But they didn't choose to work in those countries, although they are in those countries will be paid more than being paid in the UK. So I think it will differ according to the person's type of thinking or planning in the future, what he really wants. Yeah, I think you can say that's the same for anywhere, can't you? What people pride themselves on, or what they view as important is different things. But I think it's difficult and it's one and I can see the argument from both sides as to if the shoe is on 1ft, you offer this, if the shoe is on the other foot, you offer this. And I can see why an employer might offer different levels. I just think it's something that for me, being born and bred in the UK, having never really known any different, never lived in another country that I've only ever experienced myself. There may be a range of pay based on a number of years experience, but just because I've come from Somerset, someone else that was born in Cornwall wouldn't be offered a different salary unless they had ten years experience. And I had three. But education in terms of the candidates is one side. I think it's also important to acknowledge. What can we do to educate employers in the Middle East in terms of whether that's about the current hiring kind of situations, about best practices. Now, I know we work with all of our employers, regardless, not just the Middle East, to promote hiring ethically and presenting the best quality candidates, but at the end of the day, the companies have the decision as to what they are looking to hire and if the candidate is right. But what can we do to educate these employers as to how we can make them more successful and get the best quality candidates, but also us also being respectful of those differences, that that is how employers in those countries do operate? Sorry, Chris, I think it comes down to you look at the west, probably other areas as well. It comes down to trust, less sore qualifications, experience and such like. People in the west doing a job are trusted to do that job absolutely perfectly, down to the final washer that needs to go on at the end of the pipe and all this kind of stuff. And other workers. So the Middle East, because they're less safety orientated, they're more speed and getting the job done, they have less pride in their work, they're always looking at what other people are doing and how much money they're getting. And it's almost like Laziness comes into it is the Europeans are paid more because they can be trusted. One example, our son is on the big ship out in Singapore, coming to the end of a stage where when that was done, people would be then finished. He's gone into work and he was supervising over there. And some of the workers have smashed the generator to pieces. Loads of pipe work, knocked it back about two months because they knew that there was no cameras, it wouldn't be seen, and they couldn't get rid of the manpower because they would have to redo all this work. And it's that kind of the lowering of standards. It doesn't happen all the time. But this thing of generally people in the West, America, Canadians, Australians, such like in comparison to Middle East Asia, those areas, it's the trust that the employers don't have employing local because if they pay more, they will get better quality management services. The job will be done right the first time, which is a massive saving, especially in engineering and healthcare, the safety elements of it, until the trust barriers can be and we probably looking at once again generational changes. How is this trust? People don't have the same values of I will do this job to the best of my ability or there's 4 hours to go until I knock off the mentality is not right. But you could apply that anywhere in the world, pete, you could. Isn't the Middle East particular problem, I don't think. But the question that Francesca asked, I would answer as follows is you have to choose your battlegrounds. We're not going to change the world, we're not going to change the Middle East outlook and philosophy. So in areas where we're not going to have an impact, I wouldn't invest the time and effort in those sectors. I would choose to try and help Middle Eastern employers with the highest skilled people that they require for their jobs. If they want to infill for drivers, cleaners, et cetera, they're not going to come from the west, we all know that. So let's not be naive and pretend that we're going to be able to provide 1000 drivers into Saudi Arabia at high rates of pay. It just isn't going to happen. And I think that's a very valid point. And I think again, the same can be said for anywhere, is that there are certain things where you cannot change everything. But what we do need to do is offer our best advice and from best practices, what we know and how we can support employers and those transferable skills from one industry, one country to another, is something that's super important. And I suppose something that kind of ties in in the next area I wanted to talk about was by educating the employer. Something that maybe we can help avoid is something that from my understanding, that there's a lot of struggle with is those high churn rates by not employing necessarily the correct people in those locations. Be that because maybe they have, as Nizama pointed out towards the early beginning of this conversation, that you're paying someone that would take the lowest salary rather than the best fit. And some companies are still offering what we would refer to as kind of pre pandemic pre covered pay and haven't brought that up in comparison to what we're currently seeing in other locations. I know we keep using healthcare as analogy, but it's one that we're seeing a lot because it is a global shortage where you're offering a okay salary by some standards, but a very low salary by others. Just because you say you want something from somewhere does not mean you're going to get it. When you are competing against the rest of the world, it's always going to be difficult. I have a question for Francesca and Nisma. As females recruiting into the Middle East, how do you persuade the employer that your female candidates that you shortlisted are the best available regarding female discrimination, which is rife in the Middle East? Yeah, and I think for me, from my personal experience, and then Liza can answer for herself, is that a lot of the roles that I've been personally involved in have been typically more male dominated industries like engineering. And obviously there's a lot of work being done in the Stem kind of sector to promote females within engineering, just as an example. But I would view them as from my point of view, to try and say to the employer is that if this person is capable of doing the job, why should they be viewed any differently? And if they are the best on paper, of course I'd be putting them forward. I suppose the thing that I look at more, and maybe this is my own personal feeling coming through with my work I do, is that I'd be more concerned and thoughtful about the experience of a female working abroad in these situations and what they may come up against. And we're talking about a lot of negatives here, and I just want to kind of turn it on its head and say there's a lot of positives that we hear of people working in the Middle East. Like, people have changed their lives, people have had real positive experiences and not everything is bad. And I think I just want to kind of say that is that I personally have never been there, so I don't know. But equally, I've never had a bad experience myself, so I'm kind of very neutral to the idea of recruiting for the Middle East. And for me, if a female candidate has the best skill set and they're comfortable, from a candidate point of view, with being put forward, I would absolutely be putting them forward. Now, Nisma, you're dealing with these household roles and for these positions because of the nature of the roles. There's a lot of saying we would like female workers because they're dealing with children. Perhaps they're feeling more comfortable with a more motherly environment or they're looking for tutors. So we're looking for people who've got this qualification or that qualification. What's your experience with promoting females within the recruitment space in the Middle East? Yeah, I agree to you from saskawat. Nowadays there is no women are equal to men and anyone can do what is needed. As you said on papers, we are looking for skills and qualifications. As long as it's found, we can going forward. But there are some rules. As you mentioned, it needs to be woman or females in order to make the child feel safe instead of his mother or something. Here the employer already requires women, but sometimes we are having inquiries about if I'm a female, is it safe for me to live in UAE or Saudi Arabia or what type of discrimination for women there or something. Actually, our answers is from our previous history of hiring for these countries. As Fred mentioned in this conversation, we are typically trying to find the employer and make everything is clear with the employer and clear to the candidate in order not to find anything met. So we are trying to find answers from our candidates already based in those countries and they don't feel something wrong or something unsafe for them. As a female, they have the ability to get out. Can I just jump in? I like to read something from the International Labor Office work Freedom, which is discrimination at work in the Middle East and North Africa there have been some improvements in combating discrimination at work in the Middle East and North African region, such as relaxing constraints on migrant workers and provisions in free trade agreements. However, progress has been uneven and in some areas, such as women's paid employment and treatment of migrants, the region is failing behind others. The Middle East and North Africa region is both a source of destination for many migrant workers. The Gulf states have been attracting a growing number of Asian migrant laborers, mainly in the areas of construction, domestic work and agriculture. Conversely, there is also a growing number of Northern Africans migrating to Europe in search of better work who are confronted by a growing hostility in those receiving countries. Now, this would say that it's a fairly recent article that there is still problems out there. There are problems in all areas where people are migrating out of the Middle East to other European countries or those moving it. So both ways are receiving. We provide the people for the front line. We're not working in these areas, so it's hard for us to comment, but clearly there are issues as documented by the International Labor Office. It will depend on the rule or the region itself because those countries are different in mindset. Africa is different from Asia, from the Middle East, from the Northern Africa. Every type of people had his own culture and his mind upset. So I think it differs. It's not a rule, and I think that's a very valid point. Something we haven't really touched on is we are saying a lot about the Middle East accepting the Western way because more of the world maybe operates like that. But I do think it's also important to flip it on its head and say that candidates who are looking to go and move to these countries also have to be respectful, that it works both ways. A candidate, and especially from a female candidate perspective, there are certain restrictions that are in place due to religion being such a key factor in in these countries and that's a fantastic thing and it's a great thing that they pride themselves on, but those restrictions are there because they are. And if I was going to look for employment out there, I know that that is something that I would have to factor. And if that's something that I wasn't willing to compromise on, well then I'm doing what's the right word? It's my own opinion and my own viewpoint to then not go for it, rather than expecting someone to change something just for me because I don't feel like it's the way that I want it to be. And I think it's important to recognize that any candidates that are looking to work within the Middle East do need to understand that they need to respect the culture and the cultural differences. And that's not to say that employers shouldn't be aware of their employees, but when you are working in a country that is different to your own, you should be respectful of this. And again, it's like languages. I'm very fortunate that English is such a well spoken language. I don't speak any other languages. I mean, my GCSE German teacher would probably be very disappointed in me that I can just about remember how to count one to ten. But it's not something that I've ever had to carry that burden of trying to learn something new and try to fit in and that's something that's really important. Anyone that is looking for work in a different country, you've got to be respectful of those cultures and that doesn't just apply to the Middle East. When in Rome. Yeah, exactly. And Pete, sorry, were you going to say something? This article does go into talks about different regions and then you talk in there about culture. It doesn't want to say that with such a diverse region in terms of social, cultural and religious backgrounds, there are some forms of discrimination that require new policies and responses by the governments and employers in the region, which is an important part. Discrimination based on social origin, religion and ethnicity are still active in the region, as well as discrimination experienced by those from the region seeking work outside of their country of origin. So basically what it's saying is that governments need to be more active. I think we would all agree there, but also the main employers in the region who probably do the old not our problem, we can't deal with it. The people like Apple and those kind of size Microsoft and massive companies who could do a lot Facebook and they'll be like Amazon, not our problem, we ain't going to be able to solve it. We just hire people. These are big problems. Yeah, it's a wider picture, isn't it? And as we've all kind of said, in one way or another, you can't change everything overnight. And in some ways, should you have to change everything? Because there are positives that having a different culture and different way of working that come from it. But unfortunately, like with everything, we all in the media and different things, always hear about the negatives. You don't always hear about the positives. Yes. That's why we need to know previous experience from candidates who are already based in the same place we are asking for. For example, if we're asking you on Nigeria, we should have feedback from candidates already based in Nigeria and see what's happening there, what is exactly happening from the side of discrimination, either to religion or color or origin. So we cannot expect what's happening without knowing from someone who already based there. If I could just jump in here. The Middle East is trying to make changes, as it said in the article that Pete read, an extract from the government is actively engaging and telling employers, right, you want to hire international staff. We don't want you to go to Bangladesh, India, we want you to look to Eastern Europe or Greater Europe or other places in the world so that you maintain a balanced workforce. That is more positive statements from Middle Eastern governments than we have in the west, where the west just says, well, do you carry on? If it fits, it fits. If it doesn't, it doesn't. That's not our problem as the government. It's your problem to work within our rules. So they are trying to do things I think it is naive if you think that we can change the Middle Eastern culture, we can't. We won't. It won't happen. Our responsibility as recruiters is to explain to job applicants, these are the rules of engagement. If you want to take up this employment and make it transparent as to what the job offer is, at the end of the day, if you're coming from a third world country and you find the package acceptable, then that's fine, you take the package, but there's nobody forcing you to take it. Nobody. That's sort of saying, if you don't take it, we're going to stick you in prison, or anything like that. What can happen, though, is if you do accept a position and then you try to bend the rules when you're in a different country, then the Middle East is much harsher in its treatment of people who try to break contracts than perhaps we are in the west. Yeah. And not even just breaking contracts. Basic etiquette within the country. I can't remember how long ago was now, maybe a year or so, about the I think they were from Britain, who was swearing in the streets or something, and he got put into prison and is going to have his contract revoked and deported. And so that's the thing. It's a give and take scenario from both an employer's perspective, but also a job applicants or candidates, whatever you want to call them point of view that they've got to buy into both sides and at the end of the day, it's respecting and creating a safe environment. And fair is a term that could be used in many different ways, environment for everyone to flourish in whatever way they want, whether that be a candidate who thinks that $300 a month is a good a salary or a candidate that thinks $15,000 a month is a good salary. The last kind of point I want to move on to is what do we think the region looks like into the future? So in terms of from a kind of job opportunity point of view, I was reading something the other day about university professors and counselors in the UAE, believing that in kind of the next 50 years that the creative subjects are going to be one that are going to really expand to education, trade, production. Culture will be considered as, like, the most marketable skills. What are you seeing, Chris, in terms of or what are your viewpoints on where the country goes in the future? The Middle East. And my definition of the Middle East for this is the GCC countries, and those are mainly the leading members of OPEC, and they're sat on top of, I think it's about 80% of oil reserves globally. They have plenty of money to do whatever they want to do, and what they have been doing is investing outside of oil and gas. Saudi Arabia, for instance, spent $93 billion on solar energy in 2021. And if the Sadie's or any other country in the Middle East decide they want to do something, then money is the least to their problems. I think the Middle East is going to become more and more important in terms of job seekers opportunities. Whether the opportunities are in line with the job seekers aspirations is another thing. These things don't change overnight, but they change over time. Pete, what about from your viewpoint? What are your thoughts on where the region is going? Be that recruitment. Be that as a society, everything changes. It just it's generational. You got to wait for them to die off and for the next generation to step into the boots. The next generation of Germans weren't the same as the 1930s generation. Chris well, I'll be you have a friend from Iran who is Iranian. Yeah. What my thoughts are in terms of those that have integrated and been successful, I can't remember what's the name you give to him? Francesca. His nickname is KK. He's one of the leading global experts on automation and robotics. He is an exceptional guy. He would succeed wherever he came from. And if people are at the top of the pile. P. There's no problem for them wherever they are. The ones we have to feel sorry for, the ones in the sweatshops in Asia and Africa. Yeah. One of the things I was talking about with KK was came over to the UK, I believe, and successfully integrated and became successful in robotics, is it not, for these people to mentor and develop the next generation when he's come to the end of his time? So the passage of knowledge down for the generation rather than lost is passed down for the generations. Is that not how we improve and change people? I don't know, Pete. I wouldn't even attempt to answer that question. I think in terms of there's got to be a level of passing on knowledge from what you've learned to be the good, the bad, the ugly, everything in between. In terms of I wasn't sure if the point you were making, Peter Tool, was like someone who's come from a different cultural background, integrated within another culture and then has thrived. Do you mean in terms of should they be educating people on this is how you go about going from one society to another. Like KK came from Iran into the UK, was very successful in his area of expertise before he's finished. Should him and his ilk, all the successful people that migrate around the world and do a fantastic job, should they not be the leaders in terms of better to be educated by someone who's done it? Yeah, I think I understand what you're saying. Okay. Obviously he came to the UK. But I suppose if you have similar people that have gone from wherever and then been successful within the Middle East, could there be people that are pivotal in helping inform those that maybe make decisions within recruitment, hiring the country as a whole, that they should be informing those that make those decisions about how they can move things forward? If you're passing on information like Google, are you likely to take a lot of interest in a well read person who's done a lot of work, had a bit of success, a bit of failures? Or Larry Page, who invented Google? If you were interested in football, would you be interested in talking to a successful manager? Or Lino Messi, for example? It's successful. People who have been out there, done the business are the ones that really need to be the figureheads, not governments full of people that have never actually elected people, but they're not the experts. Yeah, I can understand that, and I think it's a good idea. I think, unfortunately, when it comes down to all these sort of things, the people who do make the decisions don't like being told that they're wrong on something or maybe equally. Sometimes when they are right, they want to be able to make this final decision. But I don't think it's an incorrect thing to want that. Those who have been successful yes, to be utilizing and bringing their skills and passing those on. David Beckham in the Middle East, a successful footballer who's now trying to or whatever he's trying to do. He's working in the region. Yeah. Promote the Qatar World Cup, for example, wasn't it, in terms of his relationships there? Yeah, within the World Cup and obviously being well paid for it. But people take more notice of those who have been successful than those that just talk about success. Yes. Those who have lived through experience, as opposed to those who've read about it or say they can do it or have said they can do it, rather than those who've actually lived through something. And I think that's a very valid point. Nisma in terms of your experience on a personal level, but also on a professional level, what changes do you see or would you like to see coming into the Middle East? I think that educational sector has been raised too much along the two previous years. I agree to Chris that they are focusing on oil and gas sector, but also they are focusing on educational sector. Universities and schools, international schools, for example. They are hiring many Western candidates from many countries according to the Western standards, in order to raise their level of education. Let the students expose to another culture with another people instead of making them traveling to this country, so they're bringing the teachers or professors to the country. So I think they will focus on educational sector alongside with the hospitality, because to some extent, they have luxury life hotel, five stars hotels and restaurants, and so hospitality and educational sector have been very attractive. This is my point of view. Okay, well, there are some very bold initiatives going on in the Middle East, and you've got to take your hat off to them. A couple that I'm aware of in Saudi Arabia, they're building a ribbon town settlement, which is going to be in the desert, and it's literally going to be one street, and everything is going in there, and you'll be able to get anything and everything that you want. It might well be stopped by Westerners, but if it's what the Saudi Arabians want, good luck to them. They've got the money. Nobody dictates to them how they should spend it. The other thing is, there's something like about 16 islands that lie off the Saudi Arabian coast now, there are plans afoot to have five, six, seven star hotels on each of those islands and to put a hub airport to serve those islands. And there's going to be incredible development of tourism in the Middle East. Well, you all know, Nisma, from your origins in Egypt, how much tourism has grown there, but it's going to start developing as a major industry in the other GCC countries as well. And I think it all comes back to it, doesn't it, in terms of where do we see the future being its. Education be that for GMC, the actual workers, the local workforce, educating the employers to being more aware of the wider picture, what is going on around the world. And I think from my point of view, what I would like to see is that people are given the equal opportunity based on their skill set and their ability, and that employers are openminded, that if someone can do the job. And that goes back to the point that Pete was making about trust and having that confidence that not everyone is going to act in the same way. But having that trust in your workforce, an organization is only as good as the workers that are in it. You can't have a multi million dollar business and only have one person working. You need to have all those workers that are underneath you. Would money not be top of your list? As in money for whom do I think that they need to be paid? As in workers be paid better or fairly? Not the workers pay, just the region. And Chris on about the initiatives that they're putting into place in the Middle East, just the whole money subject and how that money subject can twist everything. So that there was a lot of talk about the human rights issues within the Middle East when the World Cup was just about to start, but then when Joshua was out there fighting, no one mentioned anything. The Formula One was on, no one mentioned anything. It's almost like it depends on what it is and how much money is involved. That everyone knows the Saudis are up to a bit of no good, but they're just throwing money at it. That people's morality just sort of like evaporates. How do you get around that? Is almost like that is the one thing that no one will ever get around, because they're sort of like by governments, can't they? You know what I mean? Yeah, money is money is power in a lot of things. And when we're speaking about, obviously we said about candidates that coming from economically deprived, even a small amount of money is more than what they're potentially receiving. But I think it's also works on the other side. And Nisma has experienced this with candidates where they accept a certain salary, and then they want to try and negotiate and get more and more and more. Because they can be greedy and think that because it's coming from the Middle East, that they should be paying more and more and more. Because they're like, oh, yes, they've got the money. But isn't that like the polls did in the UK? I think it's knowing you're worth. I suppose there's nothing wrong with the candidate knowing they're worth, but being greedy and asking well and above what is perhaps a norm for something is not a fair way of going about something. And, yeah, I think money can sway anything, can't it? If we if you were an employer, would you say, oh, I feel altruistic this year I'm going to increase everybody's pay by 50% because I can afford it? No you wouldn't, is the answer. You would negotiate and you would look at what you consider to be reasonable. What you consider to be reasonable is what the workers find acceptable. And it's bad news is anywhere in the globe if people are just trying to have their pay increased and increased and increase because it becomes self perpetuation of inflation around the globe. So I have got no problems with the way the Middle East acts in terms of its wage structures and offers. My problems lie with how they treat the workers when the workers are in the country and that is where they need to make changes which will stand them in better stead internationally. Yeah, I don't not agree, but I don't totally agree with that last bit in terms of that. You cannot expect to offer someone from a country where they are earning a hypothetical €60,000 per year. You can't then offer someone a month. They're not they won't take it. No, they wouldn't take it. But I think it's that perception that the employers have that they think, well, just because I've asked for it, therefore I should get it because maybe it comes with having the money as they're used to, getting their own way in a lot of circumstances. And sometimes I think that's where also we have to be in our own position and we are only here to advise, we are only here to give our viewpoint and things and say, well, no, you're not going to get that at that rate because candidates will not accept that. And sometimes you have to challenge. We don't yeah, this is because if the employer knows that the candidate will not accept, they will automatically raise the salary. But if they know that if someone rejects the offer and other one will accept, they will keep the offer as the same. We just provide a lineup, don't we? That's what we do in advice. We provide a line up and if the lineup contains no one, well, generally the offer wasn't good enough, was it? Then that's wasted time. And time is money, as Chris has preached a lot of times, the effective recruitment and people staying in post long time and all, they can go back to sending people over to Middle East and sending people everywhere. Effective recruitment is a massive money saver. Massive money saver and that's what we do. We try to be effective. We're not judging jewelry. We just provide we provide the best service we can. We do the lineups, we place them into the client zone, they select, we get paid and the people hopefully make a positive difference to their own lives and the companies that they're being employed by. We can't do a lot, we can advise, but we're toothless really and a lot of how people are treated thereafter. People who place into the Middle East, the females, all this we can advise, we can't live it, we're not going over there, we're not doing the work, we're not living with this. Things are changing though, Pete. When we first began to operate in the Middle East, which is about 2010, the clients that came to us from the Middle East thought that they could use bully boy tactics and say this is the offer. Basically, it's replication of what they were offering to Asians or Africans and that Europeans would accept it. Now, it took about 18 months for them to actually get to understand that it wouldn't work in Europe and it's less of a battle now than it was a decade ago. But they still want to pay as little as they possibly can. And they don't look at the value side of the proposition in recruitment, they look at the cost side. So they will much rather accept a high churn rate, which is, we've discussed before, is one of the biggest costs within recruitment than to pay a little bit extra. That's their choice. Some enlightened employers have taken a different decision. And, yeah, I suppose it may be, kind of. After hearing your guys points, I think it's probably the word that's coming to mind is open mindedness, and that us being open minded to the opportunities, but also the employers, the candidates that we're talking to, for them to be open minded and willing to engage in a conversation about things and find a common ground and a way of moving forward to benefit ourselves, benefit the job seekers with gainful employment, and benefit the employers with the right type of workers that they need there. And then if we are honest and if we are transparent, we are doing as much as we can in the mix of recruitment. At the end of the day, the employer makes the decision on who they hire and the terms on which they hire the person, not us. The candidate has the right not to take any offer that is made. It's pretty simple, really, full of support. Chris does go a long way where we have a lot more repeat business by way of the quality support that we're offering. Indeed. But we pick our battlegrounds. We've been asked, and this will verify this, can you find us drivers for Saudi Arabia? It doesn't matter where it comes from, but we're going to pay them a pittance. And we've looked at the cost of living in the countries they want to recruit from and there is not enough differential in what they're offering to make it worth the individual's time and money and risk of going to the country on those sorts of pay. So we just simply say, no, we're not interested in that recruitment and that is perfectly acceptable position to take in the Middle East. Do you agree in this one? Yes, I agree to you. Crest. Unfortunately, you will not find us. They know already that if they hire, for example, a driver from X of the Western, he already takes in his home country with his family X. So he will not ever accept to take this half of X. This is what I was saying a few minutes ago. It's according to the candidate, if the employer knows that the candidate will not accept and he will not find this type of people, he already changed his mind. But as also Francesca said, you cannot force the candidate to accept or reject and you cannot force the employer to decrease or increase the salary. We are doing our best to advise. We can change employers minds and do regularly because people come to us and they'll say, we want which was what was it, Francesca? €2000 for the European nurses. Yeah. And if they're not going to find them, then from our standpoint, and if they're not able to kind of negotiate or change that, then we can obviously respectfully withdraw, but we can advise. You're not going to find anyone at those salaries. But the onus does lie on them, doesn't it? Yeah. It also would depend on the employer if he will take the advice or not. If you're talking about a higher level educated position or a lower level, I think it has many aspects. It is true to say that in negotiations, arabs will always look for weakness in the counterparty. So if they sense that someone is able to be negotiated down, they will do so. The expression that I think sort of marks it is you can take the Arab out of the soup, but you can't take the soup out of the Arab. It's just the mentality of the people. They are born hagglers. They always want to negotiate. Yeah. I think if they end the negotiations, it will be clearly right and correct. For example, this position needs two years of experience. The salary is X, whatever the origin, whatever the nationality, whatever the regulation, whatever anything. So there is no negotiations. That's what's already happening in Western with Western employers. This position needs X qualifications and experience, so we will pay him X. So no negotiations. I think I completely agree to you. Craft's negotiations is the weakness point. But also on the counter side, there's weakness that can be seen with the employer. For example, UK care home needs care workers. They've got no one. They're going under company's houses, but does not make good reading, their company, and they're offering low ball. Obviously, then we're more in the boxy I think they provide you with. But you will have to pay a hell of a lot more than what you're offering. Yeah. And I think it comes down to a point I think you'd made originally, Pete, was about lip service, doesn't it? It's that the companies in the Western side are more regulated, there's more rules, there's more things that they've got to follow, whereas a lot of the time in the Middle East there perhaps isn't. So they will find a way to find people. They will always be able to find someone. But how they go about finding someone is the challenge and whether it is a fair way of doing it or not. Obviously, I don't work in the operational side of things, but is the Middle East region, the notorious law payers not in all? Again, I think it comes down to that. We could say this of everyone, it comes down to the position. But what I would say is I think there is an inflated sense of self importance sometimes that their company is better because, oh, we're offering tax free salary and then we'll do this and this and this. One thing I do think that they do do very well is offering accommodation for employees. That is something that, and I think Christmas would probably agree, that is a benefit that they do offer. The size of being tax free is that. But accommodation is something that I think for any international candidate, if you're moving from one location to another, the last thing you want to be worrying about is where am I going to be staying? So I do think that is something that they do do well, but I'd say, yeah, I think and also for other senior positions, healthcare is usually a standard benefit as well. Yeah, but I think to say as make a swooping generalization that they are always the lowest payers. No, not necessarily. I think it just comes down to the position and I don't know what this is. The perception I get, and this is just my opinion, is that sometimes I think that they maybe forget about that there are other countries within the world they are competing against for those skill sets. So, taking that nurse's analogy that you said, Pete, where they were offering $2,000, that $2,000 is nothing compared to what other countries are offering that are also still struggling to find workers. So you can't just go off of, well, that's it, that's our offer. I expect to see people, because you're not going to find people now, unless anyone has anything else to add, I think I'm going to wrap up the podcast there. So thank you to all our listeners out there and taking the time to listen. Hopefully you've enjoyed this discussion. So, from myself, Francesca, that's goodbye. Goodbye from Chris, goodbye from Nesmar and goodbye from Pete. We hope you have a lovely rest of your day. Take care, stay safe and listen to the next episode. See you soon.