Singapore's Employers Plan to Increase Headcount Over Next Six Months

Growing business sentiment is having a positive effect on the Singapore recruitment market.

Nearly half of Singapore's employers (47.3%) plan to increase headcount over the next six months, up 7.8 percentage points (pp) from the first quarter, while intentions to decrease headcount are down 3.8pp to 3.5%.

These are the findinsg of the latest "Hudson Report: Employment Trends."

“Business confidence is high on the back of a healthy expansion in the global economy and the expected growth of Singapore’s GDP at 2-4% for 2014," says Emmanuel White, General Manager of Hudson Singapore.

“Compared to a year ago, the picture is much more positive. We’ve gone from headcount freezes to companies now looking to expand their workforce and open roles are being replaced immediately.”

“It’s encouraging to see the upbeat hiring sentiment with most industries in Singapore, but the marketplace remains challenging and uncertainties in the global macroeconomic environment remain,” he said.

Stricter rules on hiring of foreign professionals

White notes that the new Fair Consideration Framework which will come into effect in the coming August sets out stricter rules on hiring of foreign professionals with an objective to urge all employers to consider Singaporeans fairly in filling jobs.

"It pushes businesses to reconsider their strategy in attracting and maintaining a competitive workforce to ride the wave of growth," says White.

White also noted the sustained upbeat sentiment of the Banking & Financial Service sector which has maintained an upward trend in positive hiring intentions since Q3 2013.

The growing demand is mainly driven by a focus on business critical roles such as compliance & risk and front office relationship positions. Insurance is also an important growth area, he noted.

“The most valued candidates are those who have both deep knowledge of the local market and strong regional experiences.”

IT&T has reversed the pessimism in the previous two quarters and posted a strong growth (10.1pp) in hiring intentions heading into the second half of the year.

“Expertise in SAP, security and supply chain continues to be hot,” said White.

“Although technical skills are highly valued, we’ve also seen an emerging trend that is driving the demand for IT professionals with business partnering skills.”

Organizations are in need of IT people who can go to the frontline of business, leveraging their technical knowledge to optimize process, support sales and create value.

“These roles require not only a command of good technical skills, but also business acumen, strategic thinking and a deep knowledge of the industry,” he said.

In manufacturing & industrial, Hudson is seeing significant job growth from chemical, oil & gas, medical devices and pharmaceutical industries.

“Demand is high for trade compliance roles as organizations increase their focus on regulatory compliance across South East Asia. Skills in transfer pricing are also valued as companies look to make the most of tax breaks.”

The downward trend continues with the consumer sector, but the decline has been moderated from a drop of 5.7pp in Q1 to 1.2pp, indicating less pessimism on the employment outlook over the second half of the year.

More employers (54.3%) are looking to keep headcount steady.

“As major players in the sector continue to reduce redundancies to react more swiftly to the market, we expect to see continued conservative hiring sentiment with the consumer sector in the next few months,” said White.

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