Singapore – Steady hiring outlook for second half of the year

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on 15 Jul, 2015

The hiring sentiment in Singapore for the second half of 2015 is cautious and reflective of a “wait and see” approach, with a net 32.1% of employers expecting to increase headcount, a slight decrease of 4.9 percentage points (pp) from the first half of 2015, according to  The Hudson Report: Employment Trends, released today.

Emmanuel White, Regional Director for Hudson Singapore, commented: “While we are seeing certain sectors such as ICT and professional services showing strong net hiring sentiment, in other sectors we are seeing companies focus on keeping their headcount lean as they enter the second half of the year. Careful consideration is given before adding new headcount unless it is for a business-critical role, or a sales or sales support role, which is where we are seeing heightened demand.”

The hiring market is still robust, he added, with one-in-three employers looking to increase their permanent headcount in the second half of the year.

Mr White continued: “Talent at the mid to senior level is still very much in demand for key regional positions as well as demand for business partner roles that work in collaboration with business stakeholders for example in finance and ICT.”

“Our clients are telling us that Singapore remains the top choice for companies to locate their executive headquarters from where they can manage and oversee their operations in Asia. However, organisations are conscious of cost efficiencies and are streamlining headcount to ensure their strategic and key global industry hires are based in Singapore whilst middle management operations roles are offshored to nearby markets.”

The ICT sector is showing the strongest intentions to hire with a net 55.3% of employers looking to increase headcount, up 2.9 pp from the first half of 2015. This is the strongest net hiring sentiment in the ICT sector since 2011.

Mr White explained: “The ICT sector has shown strong and sustained growth over the past 12 months, as companies invest in updating their IT systems and platforms. We are currently seeing a demand for IT solution sales roles, a trend driven by specialised IT vendors that are new to the market and have developed technology in areas such as big data, cloud solutions, business intelligence and security solutions.”

The professional services sector is also showing strong intentions to hire, with a net 43.6% of employers looking to increase headcount, up 2.5 pp from the first half of 2015.

The healthcare and life sciences sector, meanwhile, is showing the sharpest increase in intentions to hire of all sectors, with a net 34.3% of employers looking to increase headcount in the second half of the year, up 8.7 pp from H1 2015.

As Singapore positions itself as a global medical technology hub, Mr White said more pharmaceutical companies are establishing bases here, which is having a positive effect on hiring.

“We are also seeing a consolidation trend in the sector, as companies acquire competitors or form joint venture partnerships in the region. As a result there is high demand – and a shortage of supply – for technical roles such as clinical specialists and senior positions at director level including more global industry experts.”

Across the sectors, there is a strong emphasis on sales, he added. “Sales roles are very popular right now, across the board. Most industries are trying to expand their footprint and drive growth.”

Across all sectors, the banking and finance industry has shown the strongest decline in hiring intentions, with a net 21.9% of employers intending to increase headcount in the second half of the year, down 14.3 pp from H1 2015.

“The sector, and particularly international banks, is facing some challenges, and that appears to be impacting capacity for adding new headcount. As has been well documented, China demand is easing, plus with uncertainty over the Eurozone it’s not surprising to see a softening in demand in this climate,” Mr White said.

“That said we are seeing an increase in hiring activity from Asian banks. These institutions are certainly hiring, and private wealth relationship managers are particularly in demand at present.”

Reflecting on the overall results, Mr White said Singapore was well placed for a steady half year of hiring ahead, particularly in pockets such as ICT, professional services, life sciences and sales across all sectors.

“A key theme we will continue to see is a talent-driven market with skills shortages in key areas so employers need to recognise and take on great talent when they are available,” he concluded.

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