Singapore jobseekers are pursuing positions in the computer and IT sectors, just as these sectors are trying to hire more people. It seems a match at first glance. But employers should be mindful whether the attraction and retention strategies they deploy will work in the long term, advises Paul Thomas Kannimmel, Chief Human Resources Officer at SEEK Asia – the parent of job search platforms JobStreet and JobsDB.
“We have observed that some companies turn to higher wages to attract and retain talent,” he notes, pointing to JobStreet data that shows computer and IT are the most highly paid specialisations at all levels – senior executives in this specialisation in the entertainment and telecommunication industry are drawing $6,250 a month according to the latest figures.
“However, this may not be a feasible solution in the long-run since it would add on to business costs. It is thus advisable for employers to also look at promoting an inclusive work environment and flexible working arrangements to attract manpower.”
What's going on in the job market right now?
It's still a tight and competitive labour market, says Kannimmel, especially in the tech and digital space. Statistics from JobStreet Singapore showed over 23,100 job ads for the tech industry alone posted between the first and third quarter of last year, and he surmises that this could be driven by digital acceleration – many industries, such as banking and finance and education, have digitised their core operations and need relevant skills.
On job seekers' end, many are also pursuing roles in the industry: at the Singapore edition of SEEK Asia's virtual career fair last month, the top 10 companies most popular with jobseekers were computer and IT companies.
“M1 Limited saw the highest number of job views and applicants, followed by ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd. which saw the second highest applications, and Huawei International Pte. Ltd. coming in third on number of applications,” he listed three companies that drew the most interest.
Employers across almost all industries are also trying to attract talent with more pay, long-term sustainability notwithstanding. JobStreet data showed a huge 49.9% increase in salaries from Q1 to Q3 2021, and while most of this may have come from the talent crunch in the tech sector, even typically lower-paid jobs in retail and F&B have also seen starting pay go up dramatically in recent months.
In addition, employers may be getting better at matching what jobseekers look for, or at least better at communicating their employment offerings to candidates. Between February and March this year, JobStreet recorded a 30% increase in job applications.
“This might be attributed to the effective communication of improved offerings that are suited to today’s candidates' expectations, which has resulted in positive job application trends,” Kannimmel speculates.
More emphasis on less tangible factors
Many companies will probably have recognised what Kannimmel points out about the unsustainability of very large pay packets. Possibly because of that, flexible working arrangements and upskilling opportunities have caught on with employers as a selling point to talent. Despite ongoing reluctance to let go of the 'face time' workplace culture, more and more companies are continuing with flexible work even though the government is easing COVID-19 restrictions. And upskilling has become a viable alternative to hiring externally, one that has the added plus point of improving retention.
Going beyond that, an increasing number of companies have started emphasising their stance on socio-political issues to help attract talent – and it's a natural step for them, according to Kannimmel.
“In recent years, we have recognised that many candidates are more in tune with socio-political issues and actively look out for brands that align with their values. Thus, it is unsurprising for companies to emphasise and be vocal about their stance towards issues,” he points out.
“There is a certain level of influence on candidates whenever companies share their views and values in the public sphere."
"Company values are becoming an important aspect of a candidate's decision to choose a workplace, and it is common for candidates to prefer working in a place where they are able to resonate with the company’s purpose and guiding principles.”