Employers in Singapore may tighten their salary budgets this year, only possibly offering new hires a 5% to 10% salary increment.
At the same time, despite a more optimistic labour outlook for Asian markets as compared to the European and American markets, candidates in Singapore are expected to have a much lower risk appetite this year.
According to Randstad's 2020 Market Outlook - Singapore, while employees are still interested in factors such as growth opportunities and better compensation packages, they are likely to be more concerned about job security and an organisation's financial stability, given current economic uncertainties.
Apart from the above, any hiring of replacement headcount due to attrition is likely to slow down this year, with certain roles and functions being absorbed into existing teams. This would help keep manpower costs low, while driving higher efficiencies.
That said, companies will reserve any large-scale investments for critical roles and digital transformation initiatives, particularly for projects that can account for immediate costs savings and revenue generation.
Overall, the report presented the most in-demand skills and job roles across three major industries - fintech, manufacturing & supply chain, and FMCG & retail.
Most in-demand skills and job roles in fintech
In 2020, mid-level professionals in banking are more likely to switch over to fintech, especially those who do not see any lateral opportunities or career growth in the next 12 months.
When hiring such talent, fintech firms are seen to prefer those with at least five years of working experience, as they would have a deeper understanding of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)'s regulations and fail-proof workflows, which can help firms drive commercial expansion.
More importantly, with rising competition in the areas of payments, deposits, investments, e-wallets and SME lending, fintech firms will increasingly look for talent in product sales and relationship management. As firms expand their operations to other ASEAN markets, candidates who have experience working in a regional remit will be highly sought-after.
Given the above, there is still a lack of talent with the skills to work in an industry such as fintech - and as such, firms are now assessing talent more on their transferable skills and culture fit, instead of focusing solely on past working experience.
Further down the journey, fintech firms are encouraged to meet this shortfall of skills and high talent demand with a solid onboarding plan, and training & development programmes to help their new hires better integrate into the new environment.
A more "progressive" approach to compensation packages in fintechs
Fintechs are gradually moving away from the traditional method of remuneration - which is typically a pay hike that is calculated based on a percentage from their last drawn salary. Instead, they are taking on a more progressive approach when designing their compensation packages, the report found.
For instance, larger and more established players are able to offer benefits that match market standards, while start-ups, on the other hand, might take a more radical approach - by offering unlimited leave, for example.
This, however, does not mean a less competitive pay package in the industry. Employers are still willing to pay the perceived value they feel the tech candidate can bring to the company.
On the banking and financial services front, there is still a traditional take on salaries. While it is highly dependent on the responsibilities of the role, the salary increase usually ranges between 10% and 20% - consistent with what banks are offering. This would typically be split between the commission and base salary for revenue-generating roles.
Some senior-level professionals may also receive equity as part of their remuneration packages, especially if they are highly pursued by young start-ups.
Most in-demand skills and job roles in manufacturing & supply chain
As a result of a relatively muted supply and demand market observed in 2019, companies are likely to be risk-averse in 2020.
Following this, hiring activities have slowed down in 2019, and is expected to continue through to the end of 2020 if the market does not pick up. Further, there will be fewer newly-created roles within the industry, with companies only hiring for replacement or contract roles, instead of new headcounts.
In line with this, companies are likely to place more focus on R&D this year, either to enhance their existing products or create new developments in the next year. Industries which will see more R&D attention are medical and aerospace, while it will remain low in semiconductor and electronic manufacturing.
Looking at roles - those that will be in high demand this year will be mainly manufacturing engineers and process development engineers within the R&D departments. These roles require talent to have relevant experience in similar background and specialised skills, as they are usually the ones driving innovation in the company.
Similar to the fintech industry, the manufacturing & supply chain also faces a lack of skilled talent, with a widening skills gap. To address this, companies in Singapore are increasingly looking to technology and advanced manufacturing, and to prepare themselves for expansion when the market picks up. As such, companies should be creating new jobs in the digital economy, with a talent pool equipped with experience in these disciplines.
With that, as part of Industry 4.0, roles related to next-generation manufacturing and involving 5G, data collection and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be created - likely improving the quality of the labour pool.
Salary expectations of job candidates in manufacturing & supply chain
An organisation's financial remuneration package has been highlighted as a key factor in a candidate's job consideration, and this includes the base salary, incentives, allowances, and employee benefits. In 2020, employees who are switching companies can expect an average salary increase of between 5% to 10%.
Most in-demand skills and job roles in FMCG & retail
According to the report, firms in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) service are actively trying to build an internal talent pipeline that consists of professionals who are skilled in both new digital media and traditional marketing.
In fact, as consumers' behaviours and purchasing patterns constantly evolve, sales and marketing professionals need to be able to accurately anticipate upcoming market trends and build sales strategies and workflows around them. As a result, many employers are increasingly particular about who they hire.
In light of that, job applicants can expect the interview process to be slightly longer in 2020, as employers may want candidates to meet with more people from the company before they make a decision. Companies also tend to hire professionals for the role that the employers want to groom them into. For example, when a company opens a job position for a brand manager today, they are actually looking for someone who they can promote to become a brand marketing director in the next few years.
Additionally, candidates who demonstrate learning potential and professional maturity, as well as strong leadership qualities such as people management and effective communication skills, will be highly sought-after.
Employees' salary and job-switch expectations
As compared to other sectors, the tendency of employees to change employers in 2020 is not as high in the FMCG space, with many holding back on changing jobs. Instead, there will be a higher focus on job security until the market recovers.
On the job search front, candidates will more likely apply to employers that are seen to have a more promising product pipeline or stable sales teams.
When changing employers, candidates can expect an average 15% salary increase in 2020.
Photo / iStock