Hiring freeze expected in Singapore for the 2nd half of 2016: Head hunters

Hiring freeze expected in Singapore for the 2nd half of 2016: Head hunters

Death of professional manpower and uncertain economic climate has caused many organisations to rethink on their hiring strategies. One of the biggest challenges faced by hiring managers in Singapore is the tight labour market. This has remained largely unchanged during the recent times, resulting in talent shortage of skilled professional talents for executive positions.

Most organisations are left with no choice, but to follow the time-tested formula of recruiting the traditional way and then grooming talent to meet cultural fit and job specifications. This can turn out to be quite a time-consuming exercise and pricey business proposition for MNCs and global organisations, to invest in a resource and then expect return on investments.

Many a times, these new hires lack dedication, commitment and urge to learn on job. There are also times when talent is not recruited for cultural fit. This is catastrophic for organisations seeking growth, as the fresh talent when mentored well look for better opportunities and quit organisations in short span of time. They learn from a company and seek better career advancement prospects elsewhere.

Given some of the above issues, employers and HR managers are required to be proactive in their approaches to mitigate such challenges. Developing staff internally and grooming talented workforce within organisation could be one of the feasible methods to combat attrition and the global talent crisis.

Current Hiring Trends in Singapore

Hiring activity in Singapore remains modest in the first half of 2016. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) paints a dismal picture for the local employment market in 2016, Singapore Business Review reports.

"Hiring in the construction sector is expected to be moderate in 2016, on back of fewer awarded contracts in 2015 and sustained sluggishness in private sector construction demand."

Disruptive technology revolution, changing business dynamics, market volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity is making organisations in Singapore rethink about their hiring strategies to source best talent.

Shedding light on jobs in the manufacturing sector in Singapore, increasing use of automation technologies could call for death of some jobs and cost the sector to experience layoffs in the year ahead. SIM University economist and Nominated MP Randolph Tan opined, "Advanced manufacturing might be the type of new challenge that future Singaporeans might embrace as a career."

Future Predictions: Hiring in the Second Half of 2016

Singapore head hunters predict hiring to be completely halted (hiring freeze) in the second half of 2016 and warn employers to be more cautious in their hiring efforts. Karen Tok, ScienTec Consulting's chief executive told the Straits Times that, "Hiring will be affected by the global business slowdown, a mix of competition from emerging technologies, and online businesses."

Considering the hiring freeze to be experienced by the country in the second half of 2016, many fresh graduates are seeking alternate career paths to progress. Singapore is witnessing a boom in the start-up culture. This would eventually contribute to uplifting the job market momentum to create more leeway for opportunities in the near future.

More start-ups would mean increase in number of local hiring, and the locals might like to make use of their SkillsFuture Credit in order to improve their employability.

The candidate wait time to expect response post interviews is a definitely long. Hiring managers are rethinking on their budgets and talent potential before arriving at a decision. There has been a significant increase in hiring of contract workers and temporary staffers by organisations to supplement their workforce needs.

In light of the current employment landscape in Singapore and South East Asia, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower has renewed their partnership agreement to promote decent work in Southeast Asia. This commitment would help improve workplace practices in the region.

ZUU Online highlights, "It would be prudent to keep in mind that employment statistics, being quantitative in nature, do not measure quality of employment which, for jobseekers, can actually be a more important metric."

The Singapore government is developing R&D facilities to attract companies and investments in the country to further strengthen Singapore's reputation as a global technological hub.

AmCham Singapore states, "Job seekers will face a marginally tougher employment environment in the July to September time frame. The hiring intentions for the next three months are best moderate."

Findings as brought to light by the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore are:

  • Hiring demand for professionals in the marine and offshore segment will be weak in H2 2016. This could have negative spill over effects on firms in the precision engineering sector supporting the oil and gas market.
  • The services sector may be the only bright light in 2016's employment market. Meanwhile sectors such as healthcare, community, social services are expected to see robust demand for manpower in the next months.
  • MOM expects some consolidation and exit of businesses this year. Redundancies are expected in sector that are undergoing restructuring and forecast weak external demand.
  • Food and labour services are expected to stay labour reliant. The Government is bolstering efforts to assist displaced locals re-enter employment.
  • Organisation in Singapore will focus on internal talent mobility and talent retention initiatives in the second half of this year. This move could be in light of increasing wage pressure and stricter foreign employment regulations enforced by MOM Singapore.

Government is imposing strict regulation when it comes to hiring foreign professionals with curtailment of work pass privileges for companies. This move is intended to curb what MOM calls as "discriminatory hiring" of foreign talent.

"Singapore banks" hiring intentions plunge on back of weak market outlook. Finance professionals looking to switch employers should be cautious about turning in their resignation letters without having a new job to fall back on.

However, compliance and regulation professionals are in demand, "according to Asian Banking & Finance."

The Association of Banks in Singapore, an industry body, said banks will "need to adjust their hiring processes" to comply with the new rules.

What the future holds in store for the industries, employers and hiring intentions of HR managers in Singapore for the next half of 2016, will slowly unveil through months. Uncertainty and cautious approaches to hiring will be the catch-words here.

However, one thing is for certain in these uncertain economic times - the country would be witnessing modest hiring outlook and maybe some layoffs will be experienced by certain industry sectors in the second half of 2016. This will be largely owing to rapid technology adoption and shift towards cloud deployment by organisations in the year ahead.

The writer is a team manager at TBC HR Consulting who has 12 years of experience in the recruitment industry. 

This article first appeared on recruitment firm TBC HR Consulting's website at www.tbchr.com

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