The struggle to locate and attract key talent is a huge concern for Singaporean employers, with 84% stating it as the biggest hiring challenge. This was followed by company culture mismatch (12.4%) and low hiring budget (10%), according to a "Talent for Asia" report by RGF International Recruitment.
This is despite the fact that Singapore is the top location that job-seekers around the world would choose to relocate to if given an option - ahead of Mainland China, North America and Europe. However, Singaporeans overall aren't keen to move overseas - except to Mainland China (21%) or Hong Kong (12%).
Nonetheless, on the employer side, sentiments are highly positive when it comes to business growth and hiring plans, with none of the Singaporean respondents stating a “pessimistic” outlook. Singapore was the only country of the study to record 0% pessimism. Rather, 53% were “optimistic”, with 47% “neutral”. This optimism translates into aggressive hiring plans for 57.9% of local respondents, who aim to expand headcounts in the coming year. Singaporeans employees overall are not keen to move overseas - except to Mainland China (21%) or Hong Kong (12%).
The report surveyed on 3,500 respondents across 11 countries and markets in Asia, both employers and candidates from various industry sectors. The report aims to better understand the needs, demands and expectations of both candidates and employers in Asia. As such, those surveyed said when hiring talent, local employers value industry expertise above all else (58%) - but are equally as concerned about soft skills such as accountability (26%) and the ability to adapt (12%).
In Singapore, the healthcare & life sciences and technology, Internet and telecommunications sectors emerged as the "most desirable" industries to work in.
This might come as little surprise, given the national push for digitalisation. James Miles, managing director RGF International Recruitment - Singapore said a strong economy, paired with a startup ecosystem and a culture of creativity and collaboration makes Singapore a desirable location for talent from all over the world. He added that the research shows that the talent gap is still being acutely felt by companies in Singapore and in each of the 11 markets surveyed.
When it comes to salary, while professionals in Singapore have valued fair and competitive compensation, 83% of local talent expect a salary increase to switch jobs. The report said that across all industries and job levels, local talent expect an average pay rise of 17% when switching jobs. Although financial compensation is the driving factor for 61% of job-seeking talent in Singapore, the next most important factors are working with “top calibre colleagues” (13.6%) and career advancement opportunities (10.8%).
"An inability to close this gap and explore innovative means of locating, attracting and retaining candidates with future-proofed skills could spell further difficulties for businesses, who might struggle to adapt and compete. On a positive note, Singapore is the top country investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle this talent shortage," Miles added.
John Tucker, Southeast Asia regional head, RGF International Recruitment, said this sentiment is echoed across most of the countries and industries covered in this report to address the talent shortage.
“Many governments across Southeast Asia are putting measures in place to help their workforce prepare for the digital future. Some of these programmes include incentivising measures such as upskilling – both on a corporate and an individual scale – and helping curtail the cost of upgrading legacy technology so companies are able to keep up with technological advancements, such as AI and machine learning,” he added.
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