Singapore businesses are still taking on staff, even though their views on economic growth are not as positive as they were a year ago, as more than half (68%) of Singapore companies report that they plan to increase headcount in the next two years. This is despite a downturn in the Regus Business Confidence Index, in which Singapore has slipped twenty-nine points from April 2011, to 117 this autumn.
As an indicator of the changing structure of employment, hiring intentions show a particular emphasis on freelancers, graduates and remote workers – as firms seek competitive advantage now and growth in the months to come.
The report shows that in Singapore, almost a third (28%) companies have pushed back their expectations for recovery to the second half of 2012.
The proportion of Singapore companies reporting revenue growth (56%) has decreased thirteen percentage points compared with six months ago, and those reporting profit growth (44%) has fallen seventeen percentage points over the period.
Nevertheless, almost two-thirds (68%) of companies plan to hire more employees over the next two years. Signalling a clear move toward more flexible working practices, 50% of Singapore companies say they plan to hire more freelance staff and 32% will employ more remote workers in 2011/12.
“The report finds that, six months on from a rosy start to 2011, the global outlook has suffered a clear reverse," says Filippo Sarti, CEO, Regus Asia-Pacific. "The proportion of companies reporting revenues and profit growth has close to stalled and expectations for the full momentum of recovery have slipped yet again and are now set for the second half of 2012. However, national business sentiment and activity does not seem to be unduly affected, with businesses actively investing in their most valuable asset: people power.”
Martin Cerullo, Managing Director for Development for Alexander Mann Solutions in Asia-Pacific notes "We are seeing many of our clients exercising caution and the slowing down of recruiting plans in Q3 and into Q4, especially with the volatility of global markets. However, many continue to invest in graduate hiring to support longer term growth in the region."
Other factors also account for the hiring process.
According to Leigh Berryman, CEO for Maccine Pte Ltd, companies are hiring as Singapore progresses its evolution and progression into a knowledge-based economy.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, despite the low general business confidence, the movement is towards a leaner, smarter development process and Singapore is positioning itself as a global player in the increasingly pivotal field of translational research,” notes Berryman.
Sarti points out that in Singapore, where employment was reported to be 2.1% in June, freelance and remote working are becoming an increasingly popular solution to increase headcount while remaining flexible and rapidly scalable. In addition to this, by taking advantage of solutions already available on the market it is possible for even very small operations to establish a low-risk presence in their target markets without making lengthy premises or equipment commitments and allowing them to expand or withdraw depending on volatile market conditions.
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