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Despite instances of slower economic growth, the employment market in Asia remained broadly positive in the second quarter (Q2) of 2016, with year-on-year demand for HR professionals up by 19%. This was in part due to the HR professionals’ mandate of creating innovative strategies to retain talent in a candidate-short market.
Across Asia, overall demand for accounting and finance professionals was up by 10% in Q2 2016, although this was not the case in Malaysia, which saw a 19% dip in jobs ads for the sector. This dip was attributed to the stabilisation of the shared services industry, with minimal expansion plans on the horizon, in Robert Walters’ Asia Job Index Q2 2016.
Across sectors, Malaysia saw a 5% dip in job advertisements when compared to the same period one year ago. However, Sally Raj, managing director of Robert Walters, noted this did not come as a surprise.
“As Malaysia is a commodity-driven economy, the contraction in the oil and gas industry has had a knock-on effect on other sectors. This resulted in companies scaling back expansion plans and candidates were more careful in making a move,” she explained.
On the bright side, there was a rise in global and regional merchandising and purchasing roles, as more companies centralised their procurement function in Malaysia to achieve cost efficiencies.
Similarly, the lower cost of conducting business, owing to the weak Ringgit, could attract foreign investment and generate employment opportunities.
Professionals with specialised skills, particularly in compliance, risk and strategy transformation, will remain sought after, noted Raj.
Singapore outlook: Regional hub position creates job creation
As Singapore continues to solidify its position as a technology hub, IT professionals remained highly sought after, with job volumes up 19% year-on-year. Along with an increase in cyber security, project and programme management roles, there were also more technical sales opportunities.
Marketing professionals also proved to be in demand with a year-on-year growth in job ads of 19%.
The overall annual growth in job advertisements was pegged 6% for Q2 2016, which Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters in Southeast Asia, put down to the nation’s recruitment sentiment.
“Despite a slowdown in export and investment, the growth in tourism and increased public spending on major infrastructure projects drove hiring in engineering, as well as corporate functions such as finance and marketing,” he said.
He added that with Southeast Asia remaining a key growth area for many multinational corporations, Singapore will continue to be a gateway to companies looking to enter and expand in the region. “Recent global events might also prompt more overseas Singaporeans to look for opportunities back home,” he said.
The hardest hit in Singapore were administrative jobs, down by 24%, as a result of companies offshoring lower-level administrative roles to cheaper locations, leading to fewer new headcount positions.