Digital professionals will be Singapore’s most wanted in 2020 – but hirers will also want them to have ‘business acumen’

There will be more contracting or flexible roles in 2020 as perceptions around such interim roles change, Robert Walters said.
The Straits Times

Despite economic slowdown in 2019, hiring activity in Singapore remained healthy and steady and is expected to continue into the next year, the latest Salary Survey by Robert Walters has said.

However, the global professional recruitment consultancy also warned on Wednesday (Nov 20) that international events, such as the US–China trade war, may impact manufacturing and see organisations become more conservative with their hiring in the short-term.

In its 21st year, the survey analyses placements made across Robert Walters’ own network to provide benchmark salary levels within various industries.

Job candidates with digital specialties still most wanted

Top jobs for Singapore in 2020 will likely continue to be digital-focused, such as data scientists, app developers and cybersecurity specialists, the London-based firm said.

But while demand has grown for technologically and digitally savvy talent across all industries, the digitalisation wave has also contributed to high turnover rates in in-demand industries such as financial services, technology, and marketing. Generally, such talent leave their jobs in less than two years to seek upskilling opportunities and new technology-related projects, the report said.

In addition, there will be more contracting or flexible roles as perceptions around such interim roles change, and job seekers become more open to non-permanent roles that offer good learning opportunities and exposure.

Instead of focusing on specific marker sector experience, there will be growing demand for skill sets and potential, Robert Walters said. This means competition for the same sorts of talent (such as developers) will heat up across various industries from tech to retail.

Hirers will also increasingly look for “well-rounded candidates with business acumen who can bridge the gap between technical expertise and large-scale commercial applications”, the report said.

According to the firm, valued skill sets include creativity, critical thinking, the ability to build meaningful relationships, and having a commercial mindset.

Job seekers want to learn and be challenged

Instead of long-term career progression and stability, job seekers today are prioritising learning opportunities, continual challenge and variety, and strong, inspirational leadership.

In a statement, Robert Walters said that hiring managers should consider innovative hiring solutions and be “flexible and empathetic towards what today’s candidates are looking for”.

“By hiring highly versatile and flexible employees with high potential, investing in customised training to upskill employees, and offering them opportunities to interact with various levels of management, companies gain an edge in winning over top talent,” Rob Bryson, managing director of Robert Walters in Singapore, said.

Job-seekers, too, can try and stay in-demand for the long term through active continuous learning and staying abreast of changes in the marketplace, he added.

Job hoppers can expect up to 15% more pay

Salary increments of between 1 per cent to 7 per cent are expected for professionals who remain with their companies next year, the report said.

In contrast, those who change jobs can expect between 5 per cent to 15 per cent increase in pay, with larger increments given to candidates with niche skill sets, such as in legal or technology & transformation.

The most in-demand jobs in the banking and financial services sector include auditors, private equity analysts in the areas of fintech and e-commerce, as well as professionals focusing on trade finance and support, anti-money laundering/financial crime/ know-your customer.

Meanwhile, accounting and finance will see a demand for professionals with business controlling/FP&A, transformation & strategy, and financial controlling skills.

The legal sector will see high demand for professionals who can speak Mandarin, have expertise in the tech sector, and are qualified and well-versed with Singapore’s requirements.

At the moment, sales and marketing professionals with digital marketing skills remain in short supply, Robert Walters said. As a result, skill sets such as Customer Relationship Management, social media, SEO/SEM, and content generation will be in demand.

In the human resources sector, there will be strong demand for professionals who are HR business partners, are able to acquire talent in tech, and work in the areas of talent management and development.

Regional demand for tech professionals

Across South-east Asia, tech and transformation will also be the dominant focus, Robert Walters said.

To this end, technology professionals with hybrid skill sets and well-rounded “glocal” professionals, who have a good understanding of both global and local cultures and mindsets, will be in high demand across all industries.

As regulatory requirements and guidelines evolve alongside digitalisation, there will also be a strong regional demand for risk and compliance professionals, as well as risk, compliance and legal talent with specialist knowledge in technology.

“Hiring managers are seeking mid-level and senior managers who can help their teams navigate change successfully as new technologies are adopted, as well as well-rounded talent across all industries,” Toby Fowlston, Robert Walters’ CEO for Asia Pacific said.

“To secure and retain these talent, hiring managers will need to show a commitment to learning and development, while also demonstrating how the role contributes to the wider organisation,” he added.

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