SKILL shortages, candidate mobility and social media are among the top issues that will dominate Singapore’s employment market in 2011, says recruiting expert Hays.

Topping the recruiter’s list is the ability of employers to overcome skill shortages.

Singapore’s jobs market is now very active, with healthy levels of movement, a strong economy and new projects coming on line.

But a shallow pool of talent in many specialist areas is the biggest threat to growth, which is why the ability to overcome skill shortages — particularly in the banking and finance, information technology and oil and gas industries — will become the defining characteristic of the employment market in 2011.

It is also the catalyst for many of the other issues that the recruitment firm expects to dominate in 2011, like salary pressure, the growth of counter offers and recruiting from overseas.

According to Hays, the hot employment issues for 2011 are:

Skill shortages

Singapore is fast becoming a financial hub and suitably qualified banking professionals will be highly sought after in 2011.

Neighbouring Asian markets are also competing for talent in this sector, so employers will need to assess what they can offer to attract and retain staff. 

The oil and gas industry will also experience a boom in the next 12 to 18 months. Shipyards, in particular, will be busy with renewed orders.

Also, with the number of subsea and deepwater operations steadily increasing worldwide, subsea controls and pipeline engineering personnel will be very difficult to find.

Salary pressure

The salary slowdown induced by the financial crisis of 2008/2009 is just a memory and the salary expectations of employees are rising on the back of Singapore’s strong economy and job numbers.

Employers meanwhile are responding to the emerging shortage of skills with a greater willingness to review salaries. Headhunting is also adding to salary pressure.

There is no doubt that professionals with skills in demand will expect a healthy salary increase in 2011. Otherwise, they will enter the job market.

Return of the counter offer

Companies are expected to dig deep to retain their top talent in the face of a tightening candidate market.

A successful counter offer involves more than just money — employers need to make sure they address the underlying issue of why their employee decided to look for a new job in the first place.

Recruiting from overseas

Despite widespread agreement that employers will need to recruit migrants to head off the growing list of skills in demand, there remains a lot of reluctance about this particular strategy for helping to overcome skills shortages.

Certainly, employers will talk about recruiting from overseas, but there are not many who actually do it, or do it well.

The irony is that recruiting from overseas can be an uncomplicated process and it is one that, if properly done, yields good results.

Plugging the leak

An increasing number of skilled Singaporeans are once more heading overseas for work following improvements in certain international markets.

Australia, in particular, is a clear attraction. Although London and the Eurozone are yet to regain their popularity, there is no doubt that, once their economies strengthen, they will again become prime destinations for the overseas working experience.

Employers are using bonus schemes, health and life insurance, gym memberships, stock options or education benefits to try to stem the flow, but it is time to get more innovative when it comes to holding onto key staff.

This means looking at more than just salary and benefits towards the implementation of solid career development plans.

Social media’s influence grows

Hays expects the use of social media checks to become more mainstream in 2011.

No longer will it be just the savvy employers who use social media to cross-reference candidates’ employment history or evaluate potential employees.

The lines between social and business sites have blurred and social media profiles will be viewed just as often as when an employer searches a candidate’s name via Google.

More than this, job seekers can expect this publicly available information to be used not just when companies are recruiting, but also when employers are considering promotions and succession planning.

So in 2011, it will be not just job seekers who need to ensure their online profile remains professional, but all employees as well.