Singapore Skills Shortage Drives up Salaries

A drive for local talent mandated by the Singapore government has created a candidate-driven employment landscape and domestic wage inflation, according to the 2014 Mid-Year Market Update issued by recruitment firm Robert Walters.

Among the key findings of its latest update:

  • Successful job movers with in-demand skill sets were able to secure an average 15% salary increment.
  • Due to tightened regulations in financial services, professionals skilled in risk, governance, compliance and legal were highly sought after.
  • Singapore’s strategic location in Southeast Asia continued to generate strong interest from multinational organisations, which regarded the country as an ideal business hub.
  • An increased number of regional offices were established here which created a demand for shared services functions such as accounting, finance and human resources.

Permanent recruitment within accounting and finance remained ‘reasonably buoyant’ in the first half of 2014, according to the update. Hiring activity was seen across a range of sectors including oil and gas, IT & T, pharmaceutical, healthcare as well as professional services.

There was an increased demand for contract finance professionals as a result of new projects in procurement and supply chain firms. Companies sought talent within finance business partnering as well as candidates with systems implementation, SAP and Hyperion experience to take on tasks required in the new projects.

The most opportunities for professionals were seen at the junior to middle level for core functions such as financial and management accounting, cost accounting, commercial decision support, financial reporting and financial control.

In comparison, the job market for senior finance professionals saw less hiring activity, although there was a slight increase in recruiting at the chief financial officer (CFO) level. There were also opportunities in the senior treasury, taxation and internal audit markets, although candidate flow remained a challenge due to the limited talent pool.

The firm also saw an increased demand for candidates with regional experience, Asian language skills as well as business partnering or commercial decision support exposure. Such professionals were keenly sought after as more companies established regional hubs in Singapore and required individuals who can manage stakeholders in the different Asian regions.

The firm suggests that to attract top talent in this tight labour market, hiring managers will need to maintain positive employer branding and ensure their roles are attractive.

Accounting and finance professionals also seek positions which offer variety and exposure to different internal functions to better integrate themselves with the business, for example, sales and marketing or supply chain. In addition, ensuring that the role title reflects the level of seniority is essential as job title is a key consideration for many candidates.

With a similar economic and market climate predicted for the rest of 2014, the firm expects demand for professionals to remain relatively active within the junior to middle level. Candidates are likely to receive multiple opportunities as well as counter offers.

In order to secure the best talent, companies “should ensure that their recruitment processes are swift, and maintain constant communication with their target candidates throughout the hiring process,” the survey concludes.

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