Thursday 22 January 2015

'Hire local' drive sees employers wooing S'poreans abroad

By Fiona Lam, The Business Times, 21 Jan 2015

EMPLOYERS in Singapore are taking to wooing overseas Singaporeans to widen the candidate pool amid the talent crunch here.

The Robert Walters' Global Salary Survey 2015 has found that the domestic talent pool is going to get even tighter this year, as the Ministry of Manpower's drive to recruit local talent gathers momentum.

With employers increasingly seeking to hire Singaporean talent, organisations and the government are looking to lure overseas Singaporeans back home.

The professional recruitment consultancy said returning Singaporeans will bring to the table both international exposure and a knowledge of the Singapore business culture, which will make them assets to companies seeking to build a core of local professionals.

Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters, said: "This creates opportunities for a more dynamic workforce and offers potential employers varied professional experiences to draw from."

The findings of the annual survey, released yesterday, was based on the analysis of Robert Walters' permanent, contract and temporary placements in 2014 across the 24 countries in which it has a presence.

Continuing pay increments this year are another consequence of the talent crunch.

Last year, employees who switched jobs commanded an average salary increase of 10 to 20 per cent, said the survey.

The government's recently-introduced Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which requires companies to consider local candidates before Employment Pass (EP) holders, is expected to continue to drive salary levels higher this year.

Another recruiting giant, Hays, said, however, that large salary increases are not expected.

Its 2015 Hays Asia Salary Guide released on Tuesday said that 59 per cent of employers in Singapore raised salaries by 3 to 6 per cent last year. This year, 54 per cent will offer increases of that quantum; only 13 per cent will increase salaries by more than that.

To compile its salary guide, Hays polled 2,361 employers in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Japan.

Robert Walters said that, besides driving pay rises, Singapore's FCF led to job vacancies taking longer to fill in 2014, with companies trying to source Singaporean talent both at home and abroad.

Looking ahead, Robert Walters expects competition for candidates to intensify, particularly in the areas of regulatory control, internal audit, risk and compliance; the current increased demand for specialists in these areas follows from the implementation of regulatory measures by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Also in demand are marketing professionals skilled in online content, project delivery, mobile and applications development and user experience, on the back of businesses continuing to invest in digital strategies.

Other sought-after candidates are those in accounting and finance who are skilled in audit, tax and pricing, as well as experienced HR professionals with business partnering skills.

Mid-to-junior IT roles will also be hard to fill because of the limited local talent pool.

S'pore ranks second in new talent index
By Chia Yan Min, The Straits Times, 21 Jan 2015

SINGAPORE has come in second in a new index which measures countries' talent competitiveness.

The index, released yesterday, gauges a nation's competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain. Switzerland was No. 1 while Luxembourg took the third spot. The study was done by business school Insead in collaboration with the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore and Adecco Group.

"It's really quite striking that among the top three countries - Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg - two are landlocked and one is an island," said Mr Bruno Lanvin, executive director of global indices at Insead and the report's co-author.

"Faced with specific geographical challenges and a quasi-absence of natural resources, these countries have had no choice but to be open economies, a critical ingredient to being talent-competitive."

Many of the other economies which made the top 20 "have strong immigration traditions", Insead said in a statement yesterday.

These include the United States, Canada, Sweden and Britain.

Mr Paul Evans, Shell Chaired Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development Emeritus at Insead and co-author of the report, said the findings pointed to the importance of vocational education.

"It's not just higher education that is important today - vocational learning needs to be integrated into secondary education.

"Within the current Swiss government, half of the ministers have come out of the vocational stream. For future talent competitiveness, countries have to take vocational education - that is, employability - much more seriously."

Mr Kwan Chee Wei, chief executive of the Human Capital Leadership Institute, said talent development extended beyond attending top universities.

"In certain Asian countries, there is a need to see value and worth in both professional and technical vocations," he added.

The study found wealthier nations tend to have higher talent competitiveness.

It also showed that countries need to customise their education systems towards developing "employable skills" and meeting the actual needs of the economy.

Japan turns to rest of Asia in hunt for younger employees
TODAY, 21 Jan 2015

With Japan’s young population dwindling, the country’s major companies have sent recruiters to Singapore to interview high-flying university graduates from elsewhere in Asia.

Tokyo-based recruitment firm Recruit Career recently arranged for seven companies to interview about 60 foreign students with a view to hiring the continent’s best and brightest.

It is unprecedented for Japanese companies to go to South-east Asia to hire fresh graduates from local universities to take them back to Japan. Until now, they have hired only foreign students who studied in Japan — and for positions at their subsidiaries overseas.

The move reflects both how Japanese companies are becoming more international in their outlook and how human resource departments are starting to cast a wider net as they face a shrinking pool of university graduates at home.

On a quiet Saturday morning last month at Singapore’s new downtown financial district, students gathered on the 39th floor of the swanky Marina Bay Financial Centre. The final-year undergraduates and recent graduates had been shortlisted in interviews conducted mostly through Skype and then flown to Singapore for two days of interviews. Their air tickets and hotel rooms were paid for.

Most tried to hide their nervousness as they fiddled with their laptops or their notes. Some were quiet and serious, while others chatted with friends as they sat on sofas while waiting their turn.

The candidates hailed from Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, India and Singapore. More than half could speak a fair amount of Japanese, as most of the companies expected. The recruiters included Panasonic, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and Brother Industries.

Mr Masayasu “Mark” Yukioka, director of Panasonic’s Corporate Recruiting Centre, said it was his first time coming to Singapore to recruit Asian students. In the past, Panasonic recruited Asians mainly to work for its subsidiaries outside Japan. Foreign students in Japan, who had studied Japanese, were also hired in Japan to work in Panasonic’s subsidiaries in Asian countries.

“But today is different. I can say that it’s the opposite way. I would like to hire foreign nationals who can speak Japanese and invite them to Japan as Japanese company employees.”

Japan’s demographic problem is one of the main factors prompting companies to search for talent overseas. “The younger generation is now decreasing, so that we cannot expect very-high-level students in Japan only, so ... we have to seek the highly educated people from a worldwide pool.”

The geographical proximity with Japan also makes it easier to recruit students from the region, he said.

Mr Caniago Ardiansyah, an Indonesian in his early 20s who has studied Japanese literature, was applying for a sales job with a Japanese construction firm. “I had passed the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) entry level test. This would give me a chance to get work in Japan. This is a big chance for me to make my dream come true to go to Japan,” he said.

“Japan will be a good strong platform for a global career because a lot of their companies are starting to look outward,” he said.


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