RGF Singapore has released its Market Outlook Report for 2017.
The Market Outlook study aims to look at the optimism of the market based on the hiring plans for each half of the year. Responses to RGF’s Market Outlook Report for 2017 were consolidated in November and December 2016 via online and phone polls. RGF Singapore contacted approximately 500 professionals, consisting of C to director, senior and middle level management, where most of them hold regional portfolios. Respondents from different sectors were well represented. For this edition of the study, the company has included an additional section to gain an insight into upcoming challenges across sectors.
- Consumer & digital media
- Financial services
- Healthcare & life science/ pharmaceutical
- Professional services
Taking into consideration the slow economic situation and uncertainty caused by the result of the US Presidential Elections, many sectors have taken a cautious approach of ‘wait and see’. The Singapore Government forecasted growth for 2017 to be between 1-3%. In 2016, the growth forecast was narrowed to between 1-1.5%.
Responses for 2017 did not come as a surprise pertaining to life science/ healthcare/ pharmaceutical and IT&T where these sectors remain optimistic due to increased foreign investments and support from the Government whilst energy and financial services remain pessimistic.
The company saw responses from extreme ends in the manufacturing/ engineering/ industrial sector where 32% were optimistic while 39% pessimistic. This might have been fuelled by recent increase of 11.9% in production index, yet some remain cautious. RGF Singapore saw an increase in demand for talent in these sectors to help push businesses, build a sustainable business plan and pipeline in 2017.
57% of respondents who mentioned that they were pessimistic about their sector believe that their sector is not expected to recover, whilst 33% were not sure and only 13% believed that there would be recovery.
Organisations that are increasing their headcount in 2017 plan to hire roles where 44% are functional, 27% technical, 15% within financial institutions and 15% others. There is increased demand for marketing/ PR/ communications, BD/ sales and legal talent as more organisations recognise the importance of building a strong brand to attract and sustain long term sustainable partnerships with clients and consumers, whilst building a strong business pipeline and ensuring that they adhere to legal guidelines. Demand for digital talent is forecasted to fall by 50% compared to H2 2016 as most new players in Singapore would have completed set up in H1 2016, thus RGF Singapore started to see tapering since H2 2016 which would continue through 2017.
Responses are consistent with the growth of the life sciences/ healthcare/ pharmaceutical and IT&T sectors where the company saw increased investments by global MNCs in Singapore. Sectors which have been impacted by economic slowdown, change in consumer behaviour and low oil prices have mostly decided to put a hold on headcount changes for 2017. Sectors within financial services where increased hiring is expected would be compliance and FinTech, where higher importance have been placed on security and data compliance. Projects that were put on hold previously would be expected to take place in 2017.
As compared to H1 2016 where the technology/ online (digital) is more aggressive in hiring, RGF Singapore started to see reduced hiring or reduced headcount from H2 2016 onwards as companies start to stabilize their operations and streamline processes.
In an annual research by Mercer, they reported that majority of Asia Pacific countries are forecasting higher salary increments for 2017 compared to 2016. Singapore is projected with a 4.1% increase, with Hong Kong a similar financial hub at 4.2%. Japan would receive the lowest increase of 2.2%, while India and Vietnam have high forecasted increases of 10.8% and 9.2%.
As compared to 2016, the company sees more sectors forecasting an increase in salaries, 42% as compared to only 4% in H1 2016 and 39% in H2 2016. Since the slowdown in economy a couple of years ago and strengthening of policies in hiring of foreign talent, more organisations embraced non-monetary benefits such as providing exciting opportunities for growth, enhanced L&D programmes and flexible work, but RGF Singapore notes that organisations are also still using pay increases to retain top performers which is critical especially in the current market situation. Organisations recognise and have placed more importance on engagement and retention of talent as this definitely outweighs the downtime, training and replacement costs.
Organisations that have put salary reviews on hold in 2016 are expected to resume reviews in 2017. The company sees increased optimism and hiring within the manufacturing/ engineering/ industrial sectors which is also reflected in more reporting an increase in salaries to retain and attract talent. However due to the current ‘wait and see’ climate, the trend of cautious hiring, lengthening of recruitment cycle and increased hiring of contract employees is expected to persist across sectors in 2017.
For this instalment of the study, the company has included an additional section to gain an insight in to upcoming challenges across sectors. When respondents were asked what challenges they would foresee in their sector or organisation in 2017, as expected, most stated economic uncertainty (26%), followed by project slow down at 11% and global constricts where their headquarters cut back on budgets and take a longer time for approvals (10%).
A persistent challenge which had been around for years is the war for talent, where there is a lack of local (8%) and specialist talent (8%). This also drives the need to engage and retain talent (9%), especially in this current economic climate where organisations would not want to face an operational disruption which would result in less revenue and incur additional costs for a replacement.
Other challenges that were brought up include competition, restructuring, price war, emergence of non-traditional businesses or business models, reduction of revenue pie, international relations, acquisition, low oil prices, falling demand, cost cutting and job in security.
Responses on the type of expected challenges reflect various portions of the report where organisations recognise the importance of branding to attract not only external but also internal stakeholders and strengthen client/ consumer partnerships which would help build business pipelines. Thus there is a constant high demand for marketing and sales talent. There is also rising awareness on the need to engage and retain top performers.
Although big data and cloud technology have been huge trending topics in 2016, from the responses we sense less urgency in ensuring data compliance.
Article covered on 13 January 2017: https://www.recruitment-international.sg/blog/2017/01/rgf-singapore-sees-rise-in-demand-for-marketing-and-pr-talent-in-latest-report