The increased level of job advertisements witnessed at the end of Q1 continued into the second quarter, as the recruitment activities across the region remained positive, indicates the Robert Walters Asia Job Index for Q2 2011.
Increased recruitment advertising activities were seen across all sectors particularly within industries such as retail services and property management which directly benefit from rising consumer confidence and spending, notes the report.
The effects of the Japanese earthquake coupled with the weaker than expected economic figures from the US and Europe may have a negative impact on advertising activity levels in the later part of the year, as companies assess the effects of wage inflation and productivity of existing staff. Job churn is likely to continue however as candidates feel more positive about moving roles, incentivised by attractive financial packages.
"Q2 is a historically strong quarter in terms of job advertisements and this year in particular saw the region benefiting from the positive client and candidate sentiment that we saw at the end of Q1," says Mark Ellwood, Managing Director, Robert Walters Asia (ex. Japan and Korea).
HONG KONG: Recruitment Momentum Continued Throughout Q2
Recruitment momentum continued throughout Q2 in Hong Kong following particularly high volumes of job advertisements at the end of Q1.
The slight slow down experienced at the beginning of April coincided with the effects of the Japanese earthquake, negative US economic data and the implementation of monetary tightening policies in mainland China, following which levels began to increase in May and June.
The region continued to see year-on-year growth in job advertisements with sectors such as retail services benefiting from an influx of tourists from mainland China. In May alone, retail sales grew by 27% year-on-year.
Demand for logistics and operational roles also increased during the quarter by 21% as export levels remained high.
Similarly, growing property prices which are currently 5% above their 1997 peak have resulted in an increased demand for associated roles.
"Recruitment activities in Hong Kong got off to a slow start at the beginning of April following weak US and European economic data. Despite this, growth over the course of the latter quarter indicates that confidence is high, both at a company and consumer level," comments Matthew Bennett, Managing Director, Robert Walters Hong Kong.
SINGAPORE: Recruitment Level in Financial Services Increased Significantly
In Singapore, the number of job advertisements grew by 24% quarter-on-quarter as companies in both commerce and financial services enjoyed a healthier quarter following the more cautious outlook throughout Q1. This is further reflected in the significant 45% year-on-year growth experienced across the region.
Recruitment levels in financial services in particular increased significantly by 21% on the back of positive banking results and increased market activity.
Demand for luxury brands and consumer items remained high as indicated by the number of shopping centres under construction in the region, increasing job advertisements by 21% in the retail sector. This in turn had a knock on effect within the buoyant engineering and construction market, which saw a 24% rise in job advertisements as infrastructure projects fuel demand for facilities and construction managers.
"Recruitment activities within Q2 benefited from a renewed level of confidence as companies released better than expected results and the market experienced more activity," says Andrea Ross, Managing Director, Robert Walters Singapore and Malaysia.
"The outlook for upcoming months is broadly positive, particularly within those sectors that are directly fueled by increased consumer spending, such as property management and retail services."
MALAYSIA: Increased Demand for Senior Roles within Financial Services
Job advertisements in Malaysia grew steadily during Q2, as the region started to show signs of growth.
Finance and IT services in particular saw increased demand as growing numbers of overseas companies look to move into Malaysia for shared services. This resulted in an increase of 19% and 20% in finance and IT services job advertisements respectively.
Renewed market confidence resulted in the market has resulted in an increase in demand for senior roles, particularly within financial services, where local banks invested in governance departments such as compliance and internal audit in order to mirror more mature market players. This in turn increased demand within HR services, as companies look to develop talent and retain valued employees.
"During Q2, levels of job advertisements increased substantially continuing with the positive outlook experienced at the start of the year," says Sally Raj, Country Manager, Robert Walters Malaysia.
"Companies are now beginning to move from being purely operational to being more strategically focused. This in turn requires finding more senior talents through job advertisements who can support this transition."
MAINLAND CHINA: Strong Recruitment Demand from Chinese Domestic Companies and Ventures
Hiring levels across mainland China grew significantly during Q2 in what is a traditionally strong quarter across the country. With auditing complete and New Year celebrations over, recruitment activity levels were high.
Property management in particular, saw significant hiring activities over the past quarter, with job advertisements rising 46% from Q1 to Q2 as the sector continues to boom.
The economy remained healthy and whilst hiring predominantly came from multinational organisations, approximately 40% of recruitment demand is now coming from Chinese domestic companies and ventures.
Candidate confidence has risen in conjunction with salary expectations. Candidates can now expect wage increases of between 20% and 30% when moving jobs or increases of between 10% and 15% within current employment. This is particularly evident within the financial services and IT sectors whereby companies are increasing wages in order to attract and retain the right employees.
Carter Yang, Managing Director, Robert Walters China comments: "Wage inflation has increased in parallel with living costs and the booming property market. This in turn drove demand for account servicing and business development roles within organisations looking to increase market share."
JAPAN: Market Sentiment within Japan Remains Positive
Market sentiment in Japan during Q2 has remained optimistic, despite the impact of the March earthquake and tsunami which inevitably affected recruitment advertising activities during May and the beginning of June.
The fall in job advertisements of 7.3% from Q1 to Q2 reflected the uncertainty following particularly strong levels of hiring in March.
Whilst the outlook from many international head offices is that of caution, the sentiment within Japan remains positive and much of the caution has abated as indicated by the upturn in advertising levels in June.
One sector that still suffers from a degree of conservatism is the medical industry. Recruitment activities fell by 23% over the quarter as many biotech companies reassessed their Japanese operations and considered opportunities for relocation.
The country is also witnessing a "Patent Cliff" as large international drug companies put hiring on hold whilst awaiting the outcome of major drug patent expirations.
In contrast, job advertisements in operations and logistics in particular increased by a significant 63% due to continuing reconstruction efforts and the rebuilding of supply chains.
The increased focus on business continuity planning has also led to an increased demand for IT professionals to support and provide data centres and cloud computing services, leading to an increase of 30% in job advertisements.
David Swan, Managing Director, Robert Walters Japan and Korea notes that the March earthquake clearly had an impact on recruitment in the region, not only in terms of the umber of job advertisements, but also the relevance of certain sectors, as demonstrated by the demand for construction and IT professionals.
"The upswing in June suggests a positive outlook going forward, as companies begin to replace those roles within administration and account servicing that were cut back during the downturn. The rise in job advertisements within creative industries such as art and design is further evidence of the renewed consumer spending which companies are keen to take a share of," says Swan.
KOREA: Increase in Job Advertisements in Legal and IT Services
Comparable data for Korea remains limited but it is clear that job advertisements within Q2 increased significantly from Q1 across most industries as Korea continued to attract interest from multinational companies looking to take advantage of the growth potential within the area. As a result, job advertisements in legal services and IT services have risen by 35% and 22% to meet these outsourcing demands.
Similarly, Korean companies buoyed by improving market sentiment are increasingly looking to expand internationally, increasing recruitment activity across a range of sectors. Financial services in particular has benefited from increased company and candidate confidence, fuelling an increase of 30% in job advertisements on account of higher levels of attrition and job churn.
"Job activities within Korea continued to benefit from Korea's positioning as a growth market and the recent signing of a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Korea is indicative of this," says Anthony Modrich, Country Manager, Robert Walters Korea.
"The region holds attractive opportunities for international companies and Koreans working abroad are increasingly looking to return home to take advantage of new roles."
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