SG salary watch 2021

The tech and healthcare sectors are expected to lead the hiring demand in Singapore, with R&D and digitalisation functions expecting a 15% salary increment this year. The domestic/cross border eCommerce management function is also expected to see a 5% salary increment this year, alongside mobile application development (5%), cybersecurity (5%), and front and backend engineering (3%). According to RGF International Recruitment’s annual report "Salary Watch 2021: Singapore", skilled talent in the area of digital transformation still remains short and therefore, highly sought after. 

Roles with this function commonly include digital transformation director/manager/associate/engineer and the skills in demand include cloud knowledge, stakeholder management, and evangelism. A similar trend is seen for R&D talent in Singapore, who are in high demand but in short supply, resulting in increased competition and higher increments for this function among the industrial and healthcare sectors in particular. 

Skills in demand for domestic/cross-border eCommerce management include marketing, project management, and being a digital native.

Other skills required when applying to highly sought after jobs such as cybersecurity director, sales, AI, mobilty development director, and AI and data science director, including cybersecurity risk assessments, cloud security and transformation, machine learning, and iOS and Android app development.
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Similarly, the healthcare and life sciences industries will continue to be at the forefront in 2021, with the demand for healthcare products and services contributing to the sector’s growth in Singapore alongside the expansion of big players into the country. While salary increments were impacted by the recent downturn, the sector’s demand for talent remains high, particularly from pharmaceuticals who are scaling up production of medical products. 

According to the report, demand for R&D talent in smart technologies and bio-tech is a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years, alongside demand for tech-savvy health professionals as the healthcare industry moves towards more digitised ways of working.

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Despite a challenging 2020, the consumer goods and retail sector was sustained by the eCommerce and online marketing boom, which opened online channels for the sale of vital F&B and household products. Acting as a regional hub, the strong growth of eCommerce in Singapore will continue in 2021 and beyond, spurring demand for more eCommerce and digital marketing professionals. The report said offline, consumer confidence is expected to pick up and give much-needed relief to the retail sector, but with a distinctly more digital or omni-channel approach. Singapore’s efforts to create travel bubbles and corridors will also benefit retail and tourism industries, spurring demand for retail sales professionals, as well as supply chain experts.

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While Singapore’s manufacturing sector is set to expand this year, the report said growth is likely to be uneven, with some industries geared to perform better than others. Growth areas include electronics, robotics, factory automation, Industry 4.0, chemicals, logistics and transport engineering, as well as biomedical manufacturing and precision engineering.

However, non-specialist roles such as general production and quality manufacturing engineers are facing downward pressure as a result of the economic disruptions and cost pressures from 2020. Sales roles have also been impacted by the lack of cross-country mobility. R&D also continues to be an area of growth as high-tech companies continue to establish centres of excellence in Singapore.

According to RGF, this has driven healthy salary increases in the market alongside competition for talent in this skill-short area. Product design engineers are in particularly high demand but short supply, which has been aggravated by restrictions on hiring foreign talent to supplement limited local talent pools.

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RGF Singapore's MD, Mike Wilkshire, said these trends are likely to intensify owing to the ongoing shortage of skilled digital and R&D talent in Singapore. While there have been many commendable efforts made by the Singapore government to bridge these skill gaps in the workforce, Wilkshire said experienced senior talent in particular remains very hard to find.

"Employers hiring in these areas must be prepared, not only in terms of increasing compensation, but elevating their employer value proposition and speeding up their hiring process to beat the competition. This comes alongside the need for sustained efforts to upskill and prepare existing workforces to future-proof their business against skill shortages, as well as continuous upgrading of technical infrastructure to not only improve functionality, but attract top talent," he added.

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