Firms woo Singaporeans working overseas

Financial services employers such as banks continue to face skills shortages in areas of governance such as compliance, legal and risk as regulatory measures tighten. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
Financial services employers such as banks continue to face skills shortages in areas of governance such as compliance, legal and risk as regulatory measures tighten. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

'Hire locals first' law intensifying talent hunt, says recruitment firm

Private and public sector employers are looking overseas to lure expatriate Singaporeans back home, a new survey shows.

The war for Singapore talent is heating up in the wake of a new law requiring employers to consider Singaporeans first when filling a position.

The Fair Consideration Framework, which took effect last August, requires employers to prove that they tried to hire Singaporeans first by advertising for 14 days at the national jobs bank.

The talent hunt is set to intensify this year, said professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, which released its latest annual Global Salary Survey yesterday.

It noted that employers are increasingly seeking to hire Singaporean talent, in line with the framework.

Mr Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters Singapore, said: "To fulfil the market's demands, organisations are looking outside of the tight candidate pool and recognising the importance of attracting overseas Singaporeans back home."

He said the firm contacts more than 2,000 registered Singaporeans working overseas quarterly, who are informed of possible job opportunities, for instance.

The survey findings suggest that people who are in demand and switched jobs last year could command an average 10 to 20 per cent salary increment.

Financial services employers such as banks continue to face skills shortages in areas of governance such as compliance, legal and risk as regulatory measures tighten, noted the firm.

It added that companies need to be prepared to move quickly and pay a premium to secure the right people.

A strong candidate for a compliance position will likely receive an average increment of 20 to 30 per cent on his current base salary, for instance.

Information-technology and marketing professionals skilled in areas such as online content, mobile and application development are also in demand.

Robert Walters said a scarcity of local and permanent-resident technology candidates looks likely, driving firms to dangle benefits such as higher holiday allowance, completion bonus and insurance coverage.

Also, top-tier candidates with specialised business experience could command up to 20 per cent more pay.

More jobs in certain areas are likely to open up as well this year, the survey found.

Those in accounting and finance, with particular skills in audit, tax and pricing, will see more permanent and contract positions as demand outstrips supply.

Robert Walters added that contracting recruitment will continue to grow this year.

Mr Joel Hides, director of financial services and technology at Robert Walters, said various factors were driving this, such as companies preferring a flexible workforce and difficulties getting permanent headcount approved.

Another report, released yesterday by recruiter Reed, found that "Singapore suffers from a shortage of high-calibre candidates across many sectors".

Employees who claim to be seeking or considering seeking a new role made up 64 per cent of respondents, while 51 per cent of employees have changed jobs between four and six times.

Latest research from recruiting expert Hays also shows that steady hiring demand will continue across most sectors this year, but that salaries are unlikely to reflect this level of demand.

Last year, 59 per cent of firms gave their staff a salary increase of 3 to 6 per cent.

This year, 54 per cent of firms in Singapore will give their staff a similar pay increase, said the 2015 Hays Asia Salary Guide, which polled 2,361 employers in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan.

Recruitment experts say organisations have to keep stepping up their game to attract the best.

rachaelb@sph.com.sg