International Recruiting: Singapore Hiring Outlook

by Veronica Blatt

NPA members recently gathered in Beijing, China for a Global Owners Meeting. Part of the agenda was devoted to learning and discussing international recruiting needs throughout Asia. Thank you to NPA members Stan Tan from PHR Executive Search and Alban d’Sa from Gemini Personnel Pte Limited for sharing their knowledge of the Singaporean economy.

Singapore has been rated as #1 in Asia for quality of life, with the 3rd most globalized economy among 60 of the world’s economies. It is also rated as the most politically stable country in Asia. The World Bank has named Singapore #1 in the world for ease of doing business, for the seventh year in a row. Current market conditions include slowdowns in the banking and technology sectors.

Some other economic highlights:

  • Employment creation moderated in the third quarter of 2012, after increasing in the previous quarter. Preliminary estimates show that total employment grew by 24,900 in the third quarter of 2012, down from the increase of 31,900 in the same period last year and 31,700 in the second quarter of 2012. International recruiting opportunities still exist, though slightly lower from earlier in the year.
  • The growth in employment slowed in services from 21,200 in the third quarter of 2011 to 11,300 in the third quarter of 2012 and manufacturing from 3,900 to 3,700. Boosted by public infrastructure projects, construction continued to register strong employment increase of 9,800 in the third quarter of 2012, up from 6,700 in the same quarter last year.
  • Layoffs rose after declining in the preceding two quarters. An estimated 3,300 workers were made redundant in the third quarter of 2012, mainly driven by higher layoffs in electronics manufacturing and retail. This was one of the few higher quarterly redundancy figures reported in post-recessionary periods, though it was substantially lower than the highs of 6,000 to 12,800 per quarter registered during the last recession.
  • Unemployment rates remained low, reflecting strong manpower demand amid the tightening in foreign manpower controls. The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate dipped marginally to 1.9% in September 2012 from 2.0% a quarter ago, while the unemployment rates for residents and Singapore citizens were unchanged at 2.8% and 3.0% respectively.

While layoffs have increased somewhat, the continued low unemployment rate in Singapore means employers continue to have international recruiting needs. Recruiters with global partnerships are well-poised to meet this demand.


Global Recruiting, Beijing, and the Asian Market

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Geoff Crews with Forsythes Recruitment in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Forsythes Recruitment specializes in engineering and technical recruitment; corporate recruitment, including executive, sales, HR, and finance; office support recruitment including admin, accounts, and clerical; trade and industrial recruitment; and organizational consulting including psychometric assessment, outplacement, and OD. Geoff serves on NPA’s Board of Directors where he is a member of the Tools, Knowledge, and Services Committee.

Skype, social media and news relayed via journalists are good mediums. But there’s nothing like being in a room with employers and global recruiting agency owners to share opinions and ask questions about employment outside Australia.

It’s now Sunday night in Beijing and most of the 46 attendees and speakers are on a plane heading home. I’m staying an extra day before heading to Shanghai tomorrow to visit some of our global recruiting partners there.

This was a successful NPA Global Owners Meeting: 15 attendees from China, 12 from Australia, 9 from the US & Canada, 3 from Singapore, 2 from Indonesia, 2 from the Philippines, and 1 each from Korea, Taiwan and Ireland. Everyone contributed and left richer for the experience together.

Asian members represent only 17% of the membership of NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network, but are responsible for 33% of successful cross-border recruitment projects. This outward perspective is important to China’s desired transition from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy. And it was highlighted in our meeting in a presentation by CAIEP – the China Association for the International Exchange of Personnel. This speech, via a translator, was a rare window into the strategic thinking on China’s labour costs, manufacturing efficiencies and balanced development across primary, secondary and tertiary industries. The need for high-level creative talent from foreigners was a point emphasized on more than one occasion.

A Q&A session with Chinese HR Managers – one from a marketing/event management agency and the other from a very large, complex manufacturing company – reiterated the need for global thinking in recruiting key staff. As in-house recruitment professionals, these representatives discussed the balance between competition and cooperation with agency recruiters on junior and middle level recruitment projects. But they emphasized the need to partner with global recruiting experts capable of accessing an international candidate pool for leadership and strategic staff requirements.

The time together included country presentations from ten of the attendees. These presentations included details from basic GDP, population and employment figures to the personal experiences of each in sourcing and screening candidates in a range of classifications, industries and cultures. Countries like China, Korea, Singapore, the US and Australia reported softer employment activity in some sectors and a cautious global recruiting outlook. Other regions like Indonesia and the Philippines outlined a national sentiment of confidence and growth.

I am an employer. My expertise includes thinking like a job seeker. Whichever way I look at it, I believe our exposure to these neighbouring Asian markets is important and I am grateful for this time I have spent with old friends and new this past few days.

subscribe button


Global Recruiting Update: Korean Economy

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s post is courtesy of Joshua Ro with People Consulting Group in Seoul, Korea. People Consulting Group places senior executives in manufacturing, information technology, consumer products, banking and finance, telecommunications, logistics and distribution, professional services, entertainment, and fashion. Joshua serves as a member of the NPA Board of Directors.

In the midst of global business attention on Asia, it seems like Asian economies are doing relatively better than other regions of the world. I have been noticing people are eyeing Asia more than before for new global recruiting opportunities and to expand their market shares.

China was the strong business driver and the center of business opportunity in Asia and many parts of the world for a while covering most of the business sectors. However, due to the recent downturn of the global economy from the U.S. to the Euro zone, it definitely has affected Asian business markets.

Korea’s economy had been steadily driving the business in general and seemed promising in many different occupational and industry sectors. Starting at the end of 2011, economic forecasting has been somewhat negative due to several reasons:

  • U.S. and Euro zone financial crisis, which will affect trade activities
  • Banking and finance has been in decline, facing high risks both in corporate financing and the consumer sectors
  • Construction industry has been down due to the excessive supply over demand
  • Consumer and retail industries facing slower sales
  • Luxury industry side was booming, especially in the imported car industry where the general index  seemed positive, yet the new demands were mostly coming from younger generations using bank loans instead of cash for purchasing.

And surely from the beginning of 2012, slowly the Korea economy began to face a downturn which has impacted businesses in all sectors. Layoffs have been increasing and many large corporations are still undergoing restructuring processes. Global recruiting opportunities have been limited.

A few trends have been noticed during 2012 in Korea’s recruitment industry, which are:

  • Hiring activities have slowed down and no particular industry seemed promising
  • Hiring process has gotten longer
  • Downward pressure on commissions from clients
  • Client expectations have gotten much higher in candidates, yet the packages offered are limited

There are a few positive indicators. Large Korean conglomerate companies have grown their interest in green energy, wind energy, specialty chemicals and especially these days on the overseas power plant projects. Over the coming years, more demand for global recruitment for foreign professionals is expected. These professionals are in high demand and clients are ready to offer high and great packages. This demand is mostly being seen in very small niche sectors and industries, where it is extremely difficult to locate available candidates.

Many clients are opening up for the hiring of foreign professional talent in recent days. This is actually something that should have been seen a long time ago but has been slow to open up.

In 2013, we look for a turnaround in Korea’s economy which will create better global recruiting opportunities for clients and partners.

Interested in global recruiting? Download NPA’s free white paper, 7 Trends for Global Recruiting.