INTERNAL auditors, site engineers, security engineers and business development managers are just four of the skills in demand in an active jobs market for 2014, says recruiting expert Hays in Singapore.

According to the recruiter’s latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of skills in demand, Singapore’s jobs market is on the verge of a huge surge in activity.

In comparison to 2012–2013, employer sentiment is far more optimistic and is a reflection that South-East Asia continues to move from strength to strength.

Once bonuses are awarded and new budgets are in place, vacancy activity will increase as candidates explore their options and employers recruit new and replacement talent.

In most sectors, there will be a good mix of both new and replacement roles, and the focus will remain on hiring local Singaporean talent.

In other trends, Hays notes that contracting within banking and financial services is expected to gain even more traction in 2014. From private wealth clients up to large full service international banks, all employers are expanding their contract and temporary headcount to help with financial reporting and ongoing finance change.

The use of temporary staff is also growing in the IT sector, which is a major change as traditionally the use of flexible workforce strategies was relatively low in Singapore compared to international standards.

When they recruit, employers across all sectors are also very selective in an attempt to minimise their attrition rate and attract the right candidate.

The following is a selection of skills in demand from the Hays Quarterly Hotspots for January to March 2014:

Tax professionals

A shortage of tax professionals exists across the board for both direct and indirect tax. Employers are looking for candidates with a mix of experience in both commercial and practice firms. Regional and transfer pricing experience is also in demand.

Internal auditors

Given Singapore’s position as a regional hub, many multinational enterprises are building their regional internal audit centres here. This is fuelling high demand for quality auditors.

Private banking relationship managers

This is one of the biggest growth areas in Singapore. The surge of wealth coming into Asia has led to a scramble by private banks to attract highly experienced relationship managers.

Senior estimators/managers

Candidates who can price civil infrastructure and building projects and who possess local experience are in demand. Employers are looking for candidates who have a strong awareness of labour costs and materials and who can prepare competitive tenders.

Site engineers

These professionals with qualifications recognised by the Professional Engineers Board are in particularly high demand as the governing bodies demand local or internationally recognised qualifications.

Geotechnical engineers

In response to tunnelling work, such as the MRT and Cable Tunnel projects, geotechnical engineers are much sought after. Demand remains significant and Hays continues to source candidates from both the local market and overseas.

Structural managers

A gap in the market is evident for locally trained and professionally registered engineers with leadership capabilities in the structural field. Given the high volume of infrastructure projects in Singapore, experienced candidates are in high demand.

Cloud architects

These IT specialists are in incredibly high demand in response to the large number of companies that are adopting cloud platforms to capitalise on greater efficiencies and lower cost of ownership.

Claims specialists

As a business grows, more claims specialists are needed to service more corporate and individual accounts. But claims specialists change employers frequently in order to expand their scope of business.

Legal counsel (infrastructure)

Infrastructure development across South-East Asia has fuelled demand for specifically experienced candidates.

Regulatory affairs experts

Companies are restructuring and consolidating their businesses, while at the same time there is increased scrutiny from governments and regulatory bodies. As a result, companies are ramping up their regulatory affairs expertise to ensure more focus on this area.

Office managers

These executives are the backbone of a company and employers need candidates who can manage a full spectrum of office management duties, from facilities, the building, office supplies, staff annual leave and some basic human resource matters.

Senior project managers

Construction of offshore structures for the oil and gas industry is an expanding market in Asia. As a result, recruiters are seeing a shortage of senior project managers (Subsea/SURF) with “mega project” experience, delivering major projects of around US$150 million (about S$191 million) plus in value.

Indirect category managers

Recruiters like Hays are seeing high demand in the fields of business/professional services, real estate and consulting services. Many companies are looking to cut overheads, both locally and regionally, and indirect procurement is the driving force in the jobs market. Candidates with specific category expertise will have an advantage.

Senior facilities/operations managers

Employers are looking for candidates who are able to handle a large portfolio of properties. Given Singapore’s small talent pool, there are only a handful of candidates who have experience in managing such a large portfolio.

For the full list of skills in demand, check out  Hays Quarterly Hotspots at www.hays.com.sg/report.

Article by Chris Mead, regional director of Hays in Singapore and Malaysia. Hays are global recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people. For more information, visit www.hays.com.sg