By Joshua Tan
Hiring prospects for this quarter in Singapore were worse than other countries in the Asia Pacific, and the industries which were hiring were also of a different profile.
According to the “Antal Global Snapshot”, a survey of hiring and firing trends conducted by management and recruitment specialist Antal International, the Republic experienced a slight dip in hiring rates from 44 per cent in Q4 last year, to 39 per cent in Q1 this year.
Also, the percentage of companies retrenching staff at managerial or professional level rose from 12 per cent in Q4 last year to 23 per cent in the last quarter.
Compared to Singapore, the employment scene was more upbeat in the region, especially in emerging markets.
The Philippines saw a hefty 97 per cent of companies hiring at the managerial and professional level in Q1 this year, and hiring is expected to be maintained in Q2.
China's hiring rate rose to 72 per cent in the last quarter, and is forecast to stabilise above 70 per cent this quarter, well above the world average of 55 per cent last quarter.
Said country managing director for Antal Singapore, Robert Maguire: “Singapore is a very different market in the Asia-Pacific region; for emerging economies like Vietnam or the Philippines, even China, there are many foreign companies moving into those countries. Obviously they’re recruiting new people from the local community”, which accounts for the high rates of hiring on the professional and managerial level.
Also, Mr Maguire added that the fewer new positions seen in Singapore could be due to reduced expansion here.
“Singapore is a very saturated and mature market,” he explained, and given the relatively low unemployment rate, the propensity to hire and fire diminishes.
The greatest employment opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region were to be found in accountancy (83 per cent), e-commerce and social media (86 per cent), and telecommunications (79 per cent). However, the findings in Singapore were slightly different.
Singapore respondents showed dismal hiring activity in the accountancy and banking sectors, with a respective 14 per cent and 17 per cent expecting to hire in this quarter.
Mr Maguire attributed this to Singapore’s well-established role as a “banking hub in the region”, with its “safety for international firms, political stability, and a reputed legal system” serving as factors to differentiate it from its regional counterparts.
“If you compare the growth and hiring in those sectors, they are emerging markets going through a high growth stage so it’s difficult to compare against a mature market like Singapore,” he explained.
The key areas where companies here looked set to hire were in telecommunications (90 per cent) and the public sector, where 100 per cent of those polled were looking to hire managers and professionals for this quarter.
The survey, which is conducted every quarter, was based on information sourced from more than 17,000 businesses in the commerce, industry, and financial services sectors in 56 countries.
For the Singapore study, more than 500 were polled via a telephone survey between February and March this year.
Fewer new positions seen in Singapore could be due to reduced expansion here. Singapore is a very saturated and mature market.
This article was first published in The Business Times.