Given the gloomy market conditions, what are the roles in IT&T that are still in demand?
Any IT role related to revenue generation will be a priority whereas IT roles classified as cost headcount will be scrutinised. Lean and mean is the way to go. Aggressively pursuing ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets outside of Singapore to boost revenue potential and pipeline will come more into play for some companies. Singapore, like many Asian markets, is still short of top talent and while the impact of the financial turmoil might make it less of a shortage situation, it does not change the situation fundamentally. The good candidates will always be in demand. From our perspective, in demand would be sales and business development. Not so much in demand are end-user roles such as internal IT and marketing roles.
What have been the hiring trends in the past quarter?
According to the Q4 2008 Report, 34 per cent of respondents plan to increase recruitment. The fourth quarter is typically a time for many companies to wrap up their first-half results or close off their financial year. As such, the business focus then was also on increasing productivity and revenue rather than hiring alone. The Q4 2008 Report was also undertaken before October and at that point, market sentiments were still extremely positive and upbeat.
What are the hiring expectations in this quarter? This year?
According to the Q1 Report across all the sectors surveyed, hiring expectations are at 23 per cent for the first quarter of 2009, down from 37 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2008. Sixty-five per cent will keep headcount steady and 12 per cent will decrease headcount. In IT&T, 21 per cent of respondents will increase hiring, and 10 per cent say they will reduce headcount.
Several companies have placed their headcount plans on hold, reduced their IT budgets or restructured their business to cover more scope with the same resources. Hiring managers are instructed to be prudent in expenses and to present solid business cases when evaluating new headcount. Generally, priority will be given to revenue-generating roles. Overall business sentiments are positive as Asia is still regarded as an important growth engine and hiring is expected to continue.
I expect the recession to bottom out this year. The effects of the recession, however especially on the recruitment front, will probably be extended for another year before normal recruitment levels are restored. Recruitment activity level is a strong indication of the economy, it is often the first to go and the last to come back.
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