APAC hiring expectations decline

Hiring activities in third quarter lower compared to previous quarter, but dip not unusual after busy recruitment period earlier in year, finds new report, which reveals hiring in IT and telecommunications sector still strong.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Hiring expectations of multinational companies (MNCs) have fallen slightly over the second quarter across all major Asian markets, with China clocking the highest expectations, according to a new report by recruitment agency, Hudson.

Released Thursday, the study unveiled that 72 percent of respondents in China expected their company's headcount to grow in the third quarter, from 77 percent in the previous quarter. In comparison, 61 percent in Hong Kong planned to hire more staff this quarter, down from 69 percent in the second quarter. In Singapore, 56 percent expected expand their recruitment, down from 61 percent in the previous quarter.

Conducted in June, the quarterly Hudson study polled 1,550 hiring decision makers from MNCs of all sizes across major industry sectors in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The report also found that many Hong Kong employers were taking a more conservative approach this second half of the year, after a busy hiring period earlier this year. The third quarter saw the first drop in hiring expectations since second quarter 2009.

However, Mike Game, CEO of Hudson Asia, said hiring expectations remained high even though numbers fell in all three Asian markets this quarter. "A decline was anticipated after two years of consistently strong growth and the overall picture remains very positive," Game said in the report.

Managers leaving in first year
Respondents in China's IT and telecommunications (IT&T) sector, at 82 percent, had the highest number of managers--among the three Asian markets--whom did not complete a full year of employment in their position. In Hong Kong, across all sectors, 38 percent said employees in managerial positions in their company left within a year, while 37 percent in Singapore said likewise.

James Carss, executive general manager of Hudson Hong Kong, told ZDNet Asia that in Hong Kong's IT&T sector, 27 percent of managers failed to complete a full year in their position, a figure he described as fairly low compared to the other sectors.

The economy also had the highest proportion of managers who stayed longer in their posts, where 50 percent of respondents indicated that the average tenure for managerial employees was over three years. Of this figure, 25 percent said the average tenure was between three and four years, while 25 percent said it was more than four years.

The average tenure for managers in Singapore was comparatively long too, with 49 percent of respondents putting it at over three years. Of this figure, 28 percent reported an average tenure of more than four years and 21 percent pointed to between three and four years.

Across all sectors in China, 60 percent of respondents said the average tenure for managerial employees was three years and less, while 34 percent pointed to between two and three years, and 26 percent said it was two years and less.

IT&T hiring trend follows suit
Hiring expectations in the IT&T sector of both Hong Kong and China were also forecasted to be lower in the third quarter, according to Carss.

He remarked that it was typical to have "periods of settling down" after the busy hiring months at the start of the year, adding that there were also "seasonal quietness" in the summer months. "It can also be said that the global economy as a whole has a cautious outlook which is driven from and particularly felt in regions like Europe," he said.

Raymond Wong, IT&T general manager at Hudson China, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that IT vendors would adjust to the hiring rhythm which changes from time to time. "Top performing employees will also influence the company's performance," he added.

In Singapore, Hudson saw a slight decrease in hiring activities this quarter compared to last quarter, but "overall hiring is still strong and the market is optimistic", said Kelly Chua, and managing consulting for IT&T for Hudson Singapore.

Asked where the overall trends were headed, Carss said data seemed to indicate either a more cautious approach to hiring in the second half of 2011 or a downturn with employee casualties. However, he noted that good candidates were still in demand.

He added that this trend was more relevant to IT&T than other sectors because "technical skills are in short supply and highly sought after by businesses".

Elaborating on Singapore's IT&T hiring trend, Chua said: "I do foresee the hiring trend will continue to be strong in the near future, with the IT vendor space and banking sector still leading the pack."

Online recruitment also remained popular, according to Wong. "Various tools such as social networking Web sites and micro blogs would be used [to seek out candidates]," he said.

He added that virtualization and cloud were popular technologies and talents with these relevant techniques were increasingly in demand.

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