WHILE hiring expectations appear to have levelled off somewhat in Singapore, they remain robust with 61 per cent of respondents looking to beef up staff count this quarter compared to 54 per cent in the corresponding quarter last year, a survey by a recruitment firm shows.

However, this is slightly lower than the 62 per cent registered in the first quarter of this year.

Industry-wise, hiring expectations have risen year-on-year in all sectors but banking & financal services, which came in at 59 per cent this quarter, compared to 65 per cent in 2Q10. However, recruitment company Hudson, which conducted the poll, highlighted that financial institutions were the first to ramp up hiring after the economic downturn, commencing as early as the beginning of last year.

In contrast, the greatest year-on-year jump in hiring expectations is in the consumer/advertising/media sector, which increased from 32 per cent to 59 per cent.
The strongest demand over the next six months is for sales professionals with 46 per cent of all respondents projecting a boost in employment in this area, outstripping other sectors such as IT as well as banking and financial services (mid office), which registered 22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. The demand for sales personnel suggests that corporates are now looking to cement market share by leveraging on revenue generating roles, the report said.

Meanwhile, the issues facing employers now are the 'serious shortages of skilled talent' as well as 'retaining key employees,' said Georgie Chong, executive general manager for Hudson (Singapore).

Sixty-nine per cent of employers here experience difficulty in recruiting top talent versus a year ago - a figure higher than Hong Kong but lower than China. When asked to cite reasons for this difficulty, respondents in Singapore pointed to a shortage of required skill sets (81 per cent), candidates demanding pay increases (49 per cent) and candidates opting for alternative job offers (32 per cent).

And in ranking human resource challenges for the next six months, retaining key staff (52 per cent) came out tops followed by hiring staff who fit the job requirements (30 per cent).

The survey polled some 450 executives here across various business sectors.