As tech and transformation remain the dominant focus for the region, companies are stepping up efforts to build a resilient workforce for tomorrow, ready for an increasingly digital landscape. This is among the insights from specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, who announced the latest release of its annual Salary Survey. The survey, in its 21st year, suggests healthy hiring activities in Southeast Asian markets, including Singapore, with limited impact expected from international events. Professionals with hybrid skillsets and well-rounded “glocal” professionals across all industries will be in high demand.
The overall outlook for the region remains buoyant. Hiring activities in markets including Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam saw high growth, while Malaysia and Singapore showed steady growth signs with robust activity in technology. Companies are seeing experienced technology professionals with hybrid skillsets, as well as professionals who are able to leverage new technology within their work to position the business for growth, in industries such as human resources and finance. There is a strong demand for risk and compliance professionals, as well as risk, compliance and legal talent with specialist knowledge in technology as regulatory requirements and guidelines evolve alongside digitalisation.
With a healthy growth in manufacturing in Thailand and Vietnam, as well as the US-China trade war which saw manufacturers and electronics companies move production lines to South East Asia, there is a shortage of professionals within the industry across key functions, such as human resources, accounting & finance, engineering, supply chain & procurement and logistics. On a broader level, well-rounded talent with strong expertise in their own field, the ability to leverage new technologies to drive efficiencies in their own work and commercial mindset, are heavily sought-after. Forward-thinking employers are starting to emphasize potential and transferrable skillsets, over market sector experience, right from the hiring stage. Glocal talent, who have a good understanding of both global and local cultures and mindsets, are seeing increasing demand.
“2020 is going to be a year where the solid growth trajectory across the region will continue. Technology and transformation remain a major focus for businesses, which is in turn shaping hiring trends. Hiring managers are seeking mid-level and senior managers who can help their teams navigate change successfully as new technologies are adopted, as well as well-rounded talent across all industries. To secure and retain these talent, hiring managers will need to show a commitment to learning and development, while also demonstrating how the role contributes to the wider organisation,” said Toby Fowlston, CEO for Asia Pacific, Robert Walters.
2020 Predictions for Singapore
Steady hiring activity is expected to remain in Singapore, despite the economic slowdown during 2019. Start-ups, disruptors and established businesses alike are becoming increasingly data-centric, driving the demand for technologically and digitally savvy talent across industries. Top jobs in Singapore in 2020 continue to be digital-focused, such as mobile and app developers, cybersecurity specialists, data scientists and data analysts. Top skillsets in demand for the Tech and Transformation sector are Change and digital transformation, Agile & DevOps, and business acumen.
Yet the digitalisation wave has contributed to high turnover in in-demand industries such as financial services, technology, and marketing, as talent leave their jobs in less than 2 years to seek out upskilling opportunities and new technology-related projects.
Contracting roles are expected to rise as perceptions around contract and interim roles change, and job seekers are more open to non-permanent roles that offer good learning opportunities and exposure.
As the competition for good talent stiffens, there is increasing demand for well-rounded candidates with business acumen who can bridge the gap between technical expertise and large-scale commercial applications. Companies are increasingly focusing on skillsets and potential, over specific market sector experience when it comes to hiring. Skillsets that are valued include creativity, critical thinking, the ability to build meaningful relationships, and having a commercial mindset.
“Forward-thinking companies today are looking beyond digital skillsets, but instead, ways to holistically future-proof their workforce in an increasingly data and digital-driven business environment. By hiring highly versatile and flexible employees with high potential, investing in customised training to upskill employees, and offering them opportunities to interact with various levels of management, companies gain an edge in winning over top talent. Job-seekers can seek to likewise stay in-demand for the long term by embarking on continuous learning, and staying abreast of changes in the marketplace, be it in technology or the economy,” said Rob Bryson, Managing Director of Robert Walters in Singapore.
Professionals staying in their jobs can expect 1-7% salary increments in 2020. Job movers in Singapore can expect a 5-15% salary increase. Larger increments are expected for candidates with niche skillsets, such as in technology & transformation, banking and financial services, legal, sales & marketing, supply chain, procurement and logistics.
Other Key Singapore Highlights for 2020
- In the banking and financial services sector, professionals who are auditors, in the area of trade finance and support, anti-money laundering/financial crime/ know-your customer, and private equity analysts in the areas of fintech and e-commerce will see the highest demand.
- The accounting and finance sector will see a demand for professionals with business controlling/FP&A, transformation & strategy, and financial controlling skills.
- In the human resources sector, professionals who are HR business partners, able to acquire talent in tech, and work in the areas of talent management and development, are expected to see strong demand.
- The legal sector will see high demand for professionals who have expertise in the tech sector, are qualified and well-versed with Singapore’s requirements, and are fluent in Mandarin.
- For the sales and marketing sector, professionals with digital marketing skills remain in short supply. The in-demand skillsets include Customer Relationship Management, Social media, SEO/SEM, and Content generation.
- Professionals with change management, planning and commercial partnering, and stakeholder management skillsets are the most sought-after in the supply chain, procurement and logistics sector.
Widening the search to secure a future-proof workforce
Hiring managers are advised to be flexible and empathetic towards what today’s candidates are looking for. Current job seekers are more likely to prioritise learning opportunities, continual challenge and variety, as well as strong, inspirational leadership, over traditional factors such as long-term career progression and stability. Employers should consider innovative solutions such as widening their search though campaigns such as Robert Walters Singapore’s Balik Kampung, which reaches out to overseas-based Singaporeans to bring them home and help overcome talent shortages.