Employers will fill skills gaps that have remained dormant for the past two to three years, but they may need to relax their stringent criteria, according to specialist recruitment group Hays.

In their April-June Hays Quarterly Report, the recruiter notes that the first quarter of the year brought with it an upturn that has fuelled rising demand for skilled and experienced talent.

More permanent and temporary positions are now available, and new jobs are created to manage increased workloads. Areas that have been dormant for the last two to three years are now seeing vacancies again. For example, increased business confidence is creating demand for experienced facilities managers in the property sector.

Demand is particularly evident in the finance technology and IT sectors.

Hays says that while a pool of available and active candidates remains in many areas, their experience or skills do not tally with what employers are looking for, which is why top quality candidates are in short supply.

Employers got used to a choice of quality candidates during the financial crisis, so despite rising vacancy activity, they still look for candidates who not only technically fulfil their requirements, but also bring additional aspects to the role such as longevity or industry experience.

For instance, Singapore is fast becoming a hub for the commodities area, with firms recognising significant opportunities arising from global commodities markets at the moment. Demand is high for banking professionals across varied product classes, such as oil, metals and derivatives.

Due to the shortage of specific skills, Hays advises employers to consider cultural fit, systems training and transferable skills as a way to navigate successfully past the shortage.

Already there is some evidence of this flexibility, although it is far from widespread. Examples include office support roles where job descriptions are more adjustable, while in the banking sector many employers are willing to train candidates who match the key criteria but lack the necessary level of experience.

Some companies have already realised that strict industry background requirements limit candidate flow. These employers have started to consider applicants from similar industries or similar backgrounds.

Here is a sampling of the skills most in demand in the following sectors:

Accountancy and finance

* Finance business partners to provide financial strategy for new products or brands;

* Cost management positions while businesses are in budget control mode;

* IFRS advisory/accounting policy roles in the banking sector;

* Product control; and

* Internal audit and risk management.

Banking

* Those with transaction banking, wealth management, commodities, specialised finance and credit risk management experience, as many of the world’s major players announce growth and development plans.

* Professionals with strong networks and proven origination and execution experience for roles in structured trade finance, export finance and project finance, as these are specialised areas experiencing growth.

* There is also a growing demand for senior banking professionals with strong regulatory and risk management experience, particularly in corporate credit risk, portfolio risk, compliance and economic capital.

Insurance

* Business development, distribution and bancassurance.

* The devastation caused by recent natural disasters has prompted insurers and reinsurers to review the ways in which they do business. This is creating more junior to mid-management positions particularly within claims, underwriting, business development and distribution, as well as risk management and actuarial.

Human resources

Companies in the commercial and financial services sectors are looking for specific skills in recruitment, compensation and benefits (C&B) and learning and development (L&D).

Office professionals

* Office managers experienced in setting up businesses;

* Personal assistants with five or more years experience; and

* Executive assistants.

For the full Hays Quarterly Report, visit www.hays.com.sg/report