VAT implementation in the U.A.E will generate thousands of finance jobs

With the forthcoming implementation of value-added tax (VAT) in the UAE and across the region, companies are going to face a huge talent crunch next year, according to recruitment specialists.

Businesses in the UAE are gearing up for the collection of VAT in 2018. It was earlier forecast that the next tax policy will generate thousands of new vacancies for finance professionals.

Taxation roles and other VAT-related positions are currently seeing very huge demand for skilled professionals. Among the positions that have opened up recently include VAT managers, VAT and indirect tax specialists, senior VAT consultants and VAT junior associates and lead partners.  More positions are going to open up next year, with recruitment expected to intensify as the rollout draws closer.

However, UAE professionals with VAT qualifications and experience are in short supply, prompting employers to look abroad to fill the gap and sweeten their compensation packages.

“There is definitely a shortage of skilled talent available,” said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director at Robert Half UAE.

Annalinde Nickisch, the HR consultant at The Thought Factory, said next year will see a high demand for candidates who have the “knowledge and experience in transitioning business processes into becoming compliant with the new VAT framework,” as organisations will be forced to amend their systems to adjust to a new tax environment.

“The talent requirements for finance and tax professionals will exponentially increase as the VAT rollout approaches,” Nickisch told Gulf News.

Among the candidates that will be hugely in demand are those who have the experience in filing sales tax returns. Professionals and consultants who can help businesses transition into the new VAT framework will likewise be highly sought after.
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“Many companies will need to re-implement, re-configure, and re-customize their existing systems as a large number of installations of popular accounting software or in-house designed ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions may not have the inbuilt capacity to apply VAT onto the invoice value.”

“This, in turn, will lead to a high demand of technical- functional and techno-functional- consultants who possess knowledge and experience in transitioning business processes into becoming compliant with the new VAT framework.”

Heading into the New Year, Robert Half has predicted that starting salaries for tax-related roles will see a rise of 4 per cent or above, higher than the average of 2.3 percent for accounting and finance roles in the region.

Tax directors in large companies can expect the biggest increase in salaries, at a 6.5 percent, while tax managers can see pay hikes of between 4.3 per cent and 4.7 per cent.

“Businesses across nearly all sectors will need to start reviewing their operational finance systems and process in preparation for the implementation of taxation and VAT over the next year,” said El Mettouri.

“Firms will need to also factor in the implications of VAT when rolling-out their ERP and SAP (systems applications and products) implementation. “

While some firms have already beefed up their recruitment drive, some organisations have opted to provide their existing staff with the necessary training, to prepare their businesses for the implementation of VAT.

“Many larger organisations have already initiated training by engaging external service providers to ensure that Accounting and Finance professionals within the organisation are knowledgeable on the VAT registration process, VAT administration, fines and penalties related to VAT filing and its subsequent impact on the operational and the financial performance of the business,” said Nickisch

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