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Employers in Singapore to ramp up hiring in next six months: Survey

Nearly half of employers here intend to increase their headcounts in the next six months, with banking and financial services showing the strongest recruitment appetite, according to the recruitment firm.

SINGAPORE: More companies here will be looking to hire more staff in the second half of 2014 - a reversal from the downward trend of recent quarters, according to recruitment firm Hudson.

Almost half of employers polled - 47.3 per cent - intend to increase headcount over the next six months, according to the Employment Trends study released on Thursday (July 3). This is an increase of 7.8 percentage points from the first quarter, while the intention to decrease headcount is down 3.8 percentage points to 3.5 per cent.

Mr Emmanuel White, Regional Director of Hudson Singapore, said: "Growing business sentiment is having a positive effect on the recruitment market. Business confidence is high on the back of healthy expansion in the global economy and the expected growth of Singapore's GDP at 2 to 4 per cent for 2014."

He noted that while hiring sentiment is on the upswing, the market remains challenging and uncertainties in the global macroeconomic environment remain.

Another factor for employers in all industries is the need to reconsider their hiring strategy once the Fair Consideration Framework comes into effect in August, Mr White said. The Ministry of Manpower announced last September that all companies are to consider Singaporeans fairly for jobs based on merit, before hiring Employment Pass holders for the available positions.

BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES SHOW BIGGEST HIRING APPETITE

Delving into individual sectors, the survey - conducted in May this year, with 425 Singapore employers involved - showed the banking and financial services sector had the strongest hiring intent, with 56.3 per cent of employers planning to hire more staff in the next six months. This is up 6.3 percentage points from the first quarter of the year, according to the report.

"It is encouraging to see the sustained upbeat sentiment with banking and financial services - the sector has maintained an upward trend in positive hiring intentions since Q3 2013, reflecting an increase in confidence of local banking businesses as well as reaffirming Singapore's position as the regional hub of banking and financial services," Mr White said.

Information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) ranked second at 52.4 per cent, while manufacturing was third with 43.6 per cent. Healthcare and life sciences, however, showed the lowest hiring sentiment among all surveyed industries at 41.9 per cent, Hudson said.

Still, one Singaporean IT company told us filling vacancies is not easy.

"If you look at the number of students coming out into the market that's trained in this sector of IT, it's actually quite adequate in my opinion. But most people do not want to continue in this sector, maybe because of image, maybe because they feel like they're competing against the rest of the world," Managing Director of The Adventus Consultants Ang Yuit said.

Human resource experts say companies need to start planning ahead to address the mismatch in talent. 

"They have to look at more training and development internally to build up their internal strength. Alternatively, they also have to try to look at promotion within their rank and file, to give locals and their own staff, more opportunities to take up those challenges," suggested President of the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) Erman Tan. 

"At the same time, they probably have to take on some internship programmes, to build a long-term talent pool, to ensure there's always a talent pool readily available to meet their organisation growth needs."

The Fair Consideration Framework which requires companies to advertise first with a national jobs bank, kicks in next month. SHRI says while this may result in a slightly longer time taken during the recruitment process, it will have a positive outcome for companies in the long run.

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