More than four in 10 hiring managers (43.5%) in Singapore are looking to increase their permanent headcount over the next six months – more than seven percentage points higher than the latter half of 2015 (35.9%), according to the latest Hudson Report.
The net effect – or overall hiring intent – stands at 34.3%, a small shift down of 1.5 pp from 35.8% in the first half of 2016, due to a small rise in those looking to decrease headcount.
The net effect is calculated by taking the percentage of employers surveyed who intend to increase permanent staff levels over the next six months, and subtracting the percentage of employers who expect to decrease staff levels.
Singapore’s job market is best described as ‘tentative’, with most employers planning to maintain current staffing levels,” said Tulika Tripathi, Managing Director, Hudson Asia. “There is strength in key sectors, and employers with competitive talent offerings will have an edge in attracting the best people.”
Permanent hiring expectations
Employers in the Media/PR/Advertising sector dominate the latest figures, with 67.6% looking to increase headcount. Social media and digital marketing are a key focus, with many hiring new talent or relying on marketing organisations to drive delivery on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and WeChat.
“The switch from traditional advertising channels to newer ones, such as apps, blogs and predictive tools, has meant more work for agencies and has buoyed that sector. However, consultants need the right skills – in social and digital just as much as traditional media relations – to be in demand,” Tripathi said.
Other buoyant sectors are Healthcare & Life Sciences (47.3%), Consumer (46.3%), Information Technology (41%) Manufacturing & Heavy Industry (36.4%), Education (35.5%) and Banking & Financial Services (34.8%).
“Pharma, biological and medical companies are also doing really well. There were quite a number of mergers and acquisitions in this sector last year, and now that these are bedded down, companies are looking to grow,” Tripathi said.
Focus more on skills development
The Hudson Report also found that hiring managers and employees don’t see eye to eye on the new skills that future workplaces will demand.
While 86% of employees are confident they have the skills to perform well in the future, only 62% of hiring managers agree with this. This means that four out of 10 employers doubt their team has the right skills mix for the future.
The Singapore Government is investing billions in coming years on skills development as part of its SkillsFuture programme, and encouraging Singaporeans to sign up for courses.
Against this background, the Hudson survey found that the top three skill sets employees want to develop are negotiation and influencing skills, driving and managing change, and stakeholder engagement; whereas employers selected driving and managing change, stakeholder engagement and innovative thinking as top soft skills required for the year ahead.
“It’s important that Singapore is able to balance the skills in demand from employers with those that individuals are interested in building. Where there is a mis-match, employers need to have open conversations around why certain skills are needed and how this will benefit both the individual and the organization,” Tripathi said.
The report reveals that although organizations are aware their team may have skills gaps, only half have a defined strategy to develop their people.
Soft skills disconnect
In contrast, almost all (97%) employees feel the importance of developing new skills, and two in three (62%) feel more pressured to learn new skills compared to two years ago; yet only half of them feel supported by their managers to improve existing skills.
“Singapore professionals are keen to learn and happy to drive their career development – but employers need to meet them halfway. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening for a large number of employees. With so many people eyeing a new role, it’s more crucial than ever that organizations provide genuine career development and learning opportunities. Otherwise, employees will vote with their feet.
“Organizations that create and sell a vision of a stimulating environment, one that encourages professional development and innovative behaviours, will have better access to the cream of the talent market,” Tripathi said.