Most employers in Singapore expect talent crunch this year: Survey

A survey of 1,500 employers and workers here has found that most employers expect a talent crunch this year, even as employees polled said they expect pay rises when switching jobs that are 10 percentage points higher than average expectations last year.

Among employers' top concerns are a lack of candidates with the necessary work experience, skills and knowledge (58 per cent), increased competition from other employers (38 per cent), and a lack of candidates who will fit their corporate culture (36 per cent).

One possible reason behind employers' concern in this regard could be smaller hiring budgets, with 44 per cent of them citing this as their biggest challenge this year. Their next biggest priorities are building a stronger brand (41 per cent) and building a more capable human resource or talent acquisition team (32 per cent).

These were among the findings in a recent report by RGF International Recruitment on hiring trends and the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, following two surveys done from last December to March this year, and in April to May.

In the light of this, the report noted: "With the onset of Covid-19, some employers may find the talent market brimming with potential candidates, especially if key competitors have had to make significant cuts.

"If this is the case, employers would be wise to jump on these key talent quickly and find the budget to hire those with specific, niche skills that can help them endure the pandemic, and thrive beyond it."

From the employees' perspective, 64 per cent of professionals say a salary increment would be their top reason to change employers.

Besides base salary, 76 per cent of employees consider performance-based bonuses to be a key compensation factor.

The opportunity for career advancement (43 per cent) and salary considerations (42 per cent) remain top priorities for Singaporeans who are considering new employment.

Despite the general economic malaise, Singaporean professionals on average said they expected their pay to rise this year by 27 per cent when switching jobs, up from last year's 17 per cent.

RGF International Recruitment Singapore managing director James Miles said that while hiring for most roles has slowed during the pandemic, the need for niche specialists - such as data scientists, cyber security experts and software developers - has continued to increase.


  • 44%

    Smaller hiring budgets

    41% Building a stronger brand

    32% Building a more capable human resource or talent acquisition team


  • 58%

    Lack of candidates with necessary experience, skills and knowledge

    38% Increased competition from other employers

    36% Lack of candidates who will fit their corporate culture


"Due to the lack of this type of local specialist talent, we have seen salary expectations rise based on the increased demand and lack of supply, thus contributing to the overall increase in pay rise expectations since last year," he said.

The report covered 11 Asian markets - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, India, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The survey found that 95 per cent of employers in Singapore said they have implemented flexible work arrangements, and more than 60 per cent of them plan to continue with these beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2020, with the headline 'Most employers in S'pore expect talent crunch this year: Survey'. Subscribe