More firms here to trim headcount in H1: Hudson

HIRING EASES: Banking and financial-services firms reported the biggest drop in hiring plans, down from 56.3 per cent to 41.4 per cent.


    Jan 14, 2015

    More firms here to trim headcount in H1: Hudson

    MORE firms expect to cut staff over the next six months than in the second half of last year, but experts do not believe the jobs market is facing a downturn.

    A new survey found that 7.4 per cent of employers reckon they will trim headcount over the next six months, up from the 3.5 per cent who expected to do so in the second half of last year.

    The poll by recruitment agency Hudson also noted that hiring is slowing as well.

    It found that 44.5 per cent of employers plan to recruit in this half, down from the 47.3 per cent who said they intended to add staff in the second half of last year.

    Banking and financial-services firms reported the biggest drop in hiring intentions. Just 41.4 per cent of employers polled said they plan to add staff in this half, down from 56.3 per cent in the second half of last year, when the sector led the pack with the strongest hiring intentions.

    Though managers have adopted a "wait and see" approach to hiring, the poll noted keen demand for compliance and regulation roles as banks address international regulatory reform.

    One segment stood out for its positive outlook.

    The information and communications technologies (ICT) sector was the only one in which a majority of firms polled - 60.7 per cent - reported positive hiring intentions.

    Not since the third quarter of 2011 has hiring sentiment for the ICT sector been so strong, said Hudson, which polled 352 employers here by phone in November.

    "Companies that traditionally outsourced their IT functions are now reintegrating, restructuring and building their teams as they see the benefit of an integrated global IT strategy and the role it can play in driving innovation and efficiencies," said Emmanuel White, general manager of Hudson Singapore.

    Toby Fowlston, managing director of recruitment agency Robert Walters Singapore, agreed, saying: "IT professionals skilled in online content, project delivery, mobile and application development as well as user experience will be in demand."

    Overall, human resource experts whom The Straits Times spoke to were not too worried about the subdued hiring activity.

    Recruitment firm Michael Page observed that recruitment behaviour is usually slower in the first half of the year, as employees stick around for bonuses, which can be paid out as late as March.

    Singapore professionals also tend to prefer to make a job switch after the Chinese New Year to signify a new start, so hiring could pick up towards the middle of the year.

    But Linda Teo, country manager of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore, noted that employers are still treading cautiously on wage increment.

    "Based on our conversation with employers, most of them have indicated a cautious 3 to 5 per cent wage increment for their employees, while a third of them have expressed a less than 3 per cent increment. Only a handful of employers have suggested an optimistic increment of more than 7 per cent," she said.