The business sector is displaying moderate optimism about economic conditions in Singapore but continues to look to contracting as a way of ramping up while staying lean, according to recruiting experts Hays.
Organizations in a range of sectors are hiring contractors and temporary employees to keep pace with growing workloads as conditions improve and to work on projects introducing new systems and big programs of change.
Hays highlights a growing focus on contract roles in the accounting area requiring expertise in the M&A field, business development and strategic consulting. As offshoring continues, transactional finance roles are increasingly rare with companies moving these positions to shared service centers overseas to cut costs.
The roll out of IFRS 9 and BASEL 3 in financial services is creating very strong demand for senior program managers and project managers with experience driving large, multi-country change programs to tight deadlines. This is also creating demand for those project managers to run the business side of the implementation and deal with senior stakeholders.
“We have seen successive reports from the Monetary Authority of Singapore this year showing a growing optimism about economic growth, but many employers continue to keep a close eye on human capital costs, particularly in the banking and finance sectors,” explains Lynne Roeder, Managing Director for Hays in Singapore.
“There are some signs that better times lie ahead, particularly as Singapore strengthens its trade agreements internationally while continuing to innovate in many areas including financial technology.”
Banking sector leading growth
However, much of the growth in contracting right now is coming from the banking sector as it prepares for IFRS 9 and BASEL 3 regulatory changes due next year. “These are large projects with very specific timelines that must be met if banks are to avoid hefty penalties. As a result, we are seeing high demand for a range of roles including project and program managers as well as developers,” says Roeder.
Elsewhere in the world, contracting is seen by candidates as a way to stay at the top of your professional game, but this attitude is only starting to be adopted by career savvy professionals in Singapore with most candidates still preferring permanent roles.
“Our advice to candidates is to be open to contracting as it offers the opportunity to join a premium company, usually beyond the reach of most candidates given the fierce competition for permanent roles,” says Roeder. “That is not to say that employers are not very discerning when it comes to filling contracting and temporary roles – they are – but we are seeing more of these roles coming to market. For employers, our advice is to act quickly and be prepared to offer exceptional candidates that little bit extra as many are fielding multiple offers simultaneously.”
Hays anticipates upward pressure on contracting rates for senior and niche roles due to the overall strength of the contracting market and the intense competition for the best candidates.
Employers are trying to resist rate rises by offering more benefits to contractors such as flexible working conditions and medical cover, but this may not be enough to secure a preferred candidate as demand for their skills’ increases and they can choose between multiple offers.
Strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial for all project-based roles, but particularly for those on three to six month contracts who must engage team members and senior stakeholders immediately.
Banking operations professionals as well as back and middle office contracting roles remains popular in banking.
Although the offshoring phenomenon in technology organizations and departments has driven many permanent helpdesk and infrastructure roles overseas, demand for contract professionals remains high as organisations require an on-the-ground presence for specific projects.