So, how is the market in Singapore? To be perfectly frank it's remarkably diverse in terms of the demand for talent depending on the industry you are in, the job function and the level of seniority you are. If I look at the number of jobs we have registered in Singapore in the first quarter, it is circa 20% more than the same period in 2015. From that alone, we might draw the conclusion that the market is in a strong position compared to last year and we should be optimistic about the prospects of securing a role, but there is more to the story than just that topline number.
The general sentiment in the market itself is one of caution and this means confidence, a factor (possibly the biggest one) when it comes to hiring is not at it's peak. Whilst job flow may be positive , and hiring is happening without question, we have seen the recruitment process lengthen from what was 4-6 weeks to 8-10 weeks. Companies are now being more rigorous around hiring decisions and, in many cases, taking a more consensus driven approach which tends to be a trend when there is caution in the market.
Now, there are sectors where we see considerable demand and processes are moving faster. This includes areas such as digital, data, fintech, development well as where we see global regulation change continuing demand for risk, compliance and regulatory professionals. If your career is in these areas you will continue to see opportunities.
However, there does seem to be a real shift that the senior executive market is going through in Singapore and, generally, there is an increasing supply of senior talent with considerably lesser demand. What we have seen is that many MNC's and Financial Institutions that have been in Singapore for some time are rationalising the positions they keep in Singapore, and, in many cases, reducing the number of these roles and relocating them elsewhere. We have witnessed this particularly across the Banking and Financial Services, Consumer Goods and Oil and Gas sectors making it very competitive for executives looking to secure roles in these areas.
Whilst, the Singapore government have done a creditable job of attracting technology companies to Singapore in the vision of developing Singapore into the Silicon Valley of Asia, this has increased the demand for talent, but up to mid management level, so not replacing the shortfall in demand for senior executives.
Singapore is going through an interesting evolution right now. Many of the companies that have been based here for some time are reducing the size of their operations in Singapore due to increased operating costs. The irony is that these industries are often where there are now well developed pools of local talent, but demand is markedly less. New innovative industries and companies are flocking to Singapore demanding talent, but finding it challenging to find local talent with the requisite skills given these functions are relatively new to Singapore. It will take time to build this talent pool up (as it did with Banking) and in the interim there is a demand for foreign talent who can do the roles now and also educate and develop the local market for longer term sustainability. All this in a climate where there is a real focus on finding local candidates for roles and increased rigor when issuing employment passes. Another factor that is increasing the length of recruitment processes.
So how is the market in Singapore? It's evolving. In the more mature industries it's highly competitive and you need to be in the right place at the right time and speaking with the right people. Are there opportunities for foreign talent in these areas? It's more challenging as there are strong local talent pools and they will need to be exhausted first.
However, when it comes to digital, data, analytics etc then the local pools of talent are much shallower and Singapore does need foreign talent to train and develop the local market if it is to remain competitive globally in the long term.
For a more in depth view on the Singapore market, download our market trends reports that will give you more of insight into what we are seeing in our areas of specialisation.
How are you finding the Singapore market in terms of finding talent or your own career? It would also be great to hear your experiences in the comments below.
by Paul Endacott