2017 to see stable hiring activity, IT professionals in demand: Survey

2017 to see stable hiring activity, IT professionals in demand: Survey

The top five professionals in demand are technology specialists, digital marketers, investment professionals, skilled contractors, as well as regulatory and compliance professionals.

SINGAPORE: Even as the economy slows, hiring by firms in Singapore is expected to remain stable in the year ahead as more multinational companies and start-ups choose to set up their operations here, according to an annual global salary survey released by recruitment firm Robert Walters on Thursday (Jan 19).

In particular, these companies are on the lookout for technology specialists, digital marketers, investment professionals, skilled contractors, as well as regulatory and compliance professionals.

The Information Technology (IT) job market will likely continue to see "high levels of recruitment" in 2017, according to the report, as more companies jump on the digital bandwagon.

Government support, including the Singapore National Research Foundation's plans to boost the local start-up ecosystem, will also underpin "very high demand" for technology professionals such as user experience and user interface designers, as well as cybersecurity experts, said the report.

In the final quarter of 2016, for instance, the number of IT job advertisements jumped 30 per cent, compared to a meagre 0.4 per cent in medical service and a 9 per cent drop in the accounting and finance sector. This trend will likely continue this year, said Mr Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters Southeast Asia.

"Technology is seeping into everything we do, including traditional roles such as accounting and legal," he told Channel NewsAsia. "There have been some challenging sectors over the last 12 months but technology has been a key growth area. I believe the recruitment numbers will continue to grow, in both permanent and contract positions."

Compliance professionals with specialist knowledge in financial crime compliance, anti-money laundering (AML) and experience in investigation and research will also remain in high demand amid tougher bank regulations, the report said.

Meanwhile, changing perceptions towards contract roles have seen more highly-qualified professionals opting for contracting as a viable career option. Therefore more companies, in particular in the technology and financial services sector, can be expected to offer more contract roles in the year ahead, Mr Fowlston noted.

"Contracting has been something that has really evolved ... People now want work-life balance and the offshoring in financial services means a lot of companies don't have the permanent headcount but still need a lot of resources so there's the need for contracting still," he told Channel NewsAsia.

BIG JUMP IN PAYCHECKS UNLIKELY

In terms of salary, Robert Walters noted in the report that a big jump in paychecks this year will be unlikely, except for certain in-demand roles which could see an average salary increment of 10 to 20 per cent.

For example, a compliance specialist can command average salary increments of between 15 and 20 per cent after switching jobs. Contractors in the banking and financial services industry can also expect salary increments of 7 to 15 percent, alongside completion bonuses.

Sales and marketing job movers can also expect a similar 10 to 15 per cent increment, with those specialising in digital marketing likely to attract even higher increments.

One exception is the IT industry where salary increments will be minimal in 2017, except the "occasional above-market remuneration package", according to the report.

The slowdown in economic growth has cast a shadow on Singapore's job market in recent months. However, even with the global economic and political uncertainty, Robert Walters' Mr Fowlston expects Singapore to "experience moderate levels of recruitment in 2017".

He said: "In terms of (struggling) sectors, shipping has had quite a challenging year in terms of industry hires; the manufacturing market as well. We've seen a small return in the oil and gas sector but that has been a depressed market as well.

"But we wouldn't be all negative about it because when companies experience some challenges, there are opportunities to 'upskill' and companies will look at their resources and see if they've got the best team on the pitch ... There will be cautious hiring activity in some sectors while employers in other booming industries might be ramping up their recruitment efforts."

Additional reporting by Loh Chuan Junn

Source: CNA/gs