THE employment outlook for the rest of 2014 appears hazy, with two human resource firms offering opposing views on hiring prospects.
PrimeStaff Management Services is forecasting hiring intentions for the third quarter to be "slightly pessimistic", and may result in some contraction.
It does not expect a lot of new jobs to be created in any particular sector, nor is it anticipating any sector to lay off workers en masse.
Hudson's more upbeat employment trends report, however, expects more employers to increase headcount for the rest of the year, reversing the downward trend of the recent quarters and reflecting a growing sense of confidence among businesses.
Nearly half the employers it polled (47.3 per cent) said they will raise headcount over the next six months, 7.8 percentage points more than in the first quarter. Employers who intend to reduce headcount are down 3.8 percentage points to 3.5 per cent.
Hudson found the strongest hiring intention in the banking and financial services sector - 56.3 per cent of employers intend to hire more staff in the second half, up 6.3 percentage points from Q1 2014.
The sector has maintained an upward trend in positive hiring intentions, reflecting a rise in confidence of local banking businesses and reaffirming Singapore's position as the regional hub for banking and financial services.
The information technology and telecommunications sector ranked second, with 52.4 per cent of employers with positive hiring intentions; the manufacturing and industrial sector was third at 43.6 per cent.
Hudson's report found that organisations are in need of IT people who can go to the frontline of business, leveraging their technical knowledge to optimise process, support sales and create value, as well as those with business partnering skills.
Significant growth in the manufacturing and industrial sector will come from the chemical, oil & gas, medical devices and pharmaceutical industries; demand will be high for trade-compliance roles and those with transfer-pricing skills.
The Hudson report said employment expectation continues to fall in the consumer sector, with 42 per cent of employers looking to increase headcount, down 1.2 percentage points from Q1. However, employment opportunities remain good for those skilled in product and brand marketing and management.
The healthcare and life sciences industry had the lowest hiring intention, with 41.9 per cent of employers looking to increase headcount.
Emmanuel White, the regional director of Hudson Singapore, said the growing demand in banking and financial services is driven mainly by a focus on business-critical roles such as compliance and risk and front-office relationship positions. Insurance is also an important growth area, he noted.
"Growing business sentiment is having a positive effect on the recruitment market. Compared to a year ago, the picture is much more positive. We've gone from headcount freezes to companies now looking to expand their workforce and open roles are being replaced immediately."
However, he warned that challenges remain.
"The new Fair Consideration Framework, which will come into effect next month, sets out stricter rules on the hiring of foreign professionals, with the objective of urging all employers to consider Singaporeans fairly in filling jobs. It pushes businesses to reconsider their strategy in attracting and maintaining a competitive workforce to ride the wave of growth," he said.