The following report provides an update on the key trends that we have observed within the Human Resources job market in Singapore. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.
The full year growth forecast for the Singapore economy in 2017 has been narrowed to 2 to 3%, with data showing that the economy has grown quicker than the 1 to 3% initially predicted in the second quarter of this year.
In the first half of 2017, the Singapore economy grew 2.7% on a year-on-year basis. The key driver of growth was the manufacturing sector, particularly electronics and precision engineering which, as a whole, expanded by 8.1% in the second quarter alone.
Other growth sectors include wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance and business services. Others such as construction, biomedical manufacturing and transport engineering were not as strong.
In the latest MOM labour report, total employment continued to decline with the unemployment rate sitting at 2.2% in June 2017. In addition, the hiring outlook remains cautious for both the construction and marine sectors.
Job seekers will continue to find roles in the finance, insurance, infocomms & media, healthcare, professional services and wholesale trade sectors, where job creation is still very active.
In the first half of this year, recruitment at the mid to senior-level has been the most active, up to a base salary level of SG$200,000. Recruitment has slowed down for senior and executive roles above this salary level, as restructuring has become more prevalent, especially amongst large institutions. This has resulted in a higher number of senior executives and regional leaders being out of work.
In times of change, the focal areas for most organisations are talent management and organisational development. There has been a surge in organisations looking to hire talent with these skills, to drive change management and HR transformation initiatives.
With digitalisation and eCommerce growing in importance, there has been a strong need for HR business partners who can understand the world of digital talent. The rise of the “gig economy” has also created new ways of working where contract and project roles have become the norm. These employees tend to freelance and with the rise of digital platforms, the demand for contract and project roles will only intensify.
With companies placing more emphasis on streamlining costs, delayering is resulting in flatter HR organisations and as such, companies have been seeking HR talent who are commercially oriented and possess strong multitasking abilities.
Structural unemployment seems to be at the forefront for the Singapore government due to the rise in technological disruptions which is rendering roles redundant while simultaneously creating new opportunities elsewhere. However, workers often lack the required skills to do these new roles - thus upskilling displaced workers and matching them to the right role seems to be the direction the government is headed in order to tackle this issue.
Salary increments usually take place around January to April annually and in 2017, they were in the range of 3 to 5% with top performers getting closer to 10%.
However, candidates who transitioned to new employers received a 10 to 20% increase on average, particularly at the mid-level.
At the executive level, where roles are now scarcer, most candidates have been willing to compromise on the financial aspect in favour of career development opportunities.
With Singapore’s economic performance projected to grow by 2 to 3%, demand for talent with specialist HR skills in the better performing sectors will continue to be high.
The Singapore government’s push for fair employment practices and hiring talent locally means that localisation of roles will continue to trend.
The challenge for most companies will be keeping up with rapid changes. Automation and artificial intelligence continue to change the HR landscape, from recruitment and payroll to talent management and performance management, but the human factor will remain indispensable and HR will remain a key enabler of company growth, with HR roles themselves becoming more dynamic.
Retention of good quality employees will also be top of mind for HR hiring managers. The trend of workers moving between jobs for shorter stints of time is on the rise in Asia Pacific, particularly among millennials and, as a result, employers will pay closer attention to employee engagement efforts.