APAC job ads hit pre-downturn levels

Advertisements in four countries confirm recruitment market experiencing strongest growth, with Japan seeing huge demand for finance and IT talents, according to Robert Walters survey.

Job advertisements in four major economies in Asia increased 72.3 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, with strong demand coming from the IT and engineering sectors, found a Robert Walters survey.

Released Tuesday, the study confirmed that recruitment levels matched those before the onset of the global downturn in late August last year.

The survey revealed that job advertisements across the region were up 12.7 percent compared with Q2. Between the two quarters, Japan and China registered the largest increase in ads, topping the list with 27.8 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively.

Singaporehad 5.2 percent more job ads this quarter over the previous one, while Hong Kong had 3.8 percent more.

The recruitment firm took into account ads in newspapers and online portals. It said most sectors saw a healthy rise in ads, which was augmented by the shortage of talent in many areas as well as a pickup in hiring from overseas firms. Contract jobs were also increasing due to both employers and candidates' focus on the short term.

Mark Ellwood, managing director, Robert Walters Asia, said: "It's looking very much like a V-shaped recovery in Asia, with very strong growth in the year to date, indicative of a swift rebound from the downturn. Singapore and Hong Kong are now seeing a period of stabilization as headcount budgets are reviewed, and this may lead to an increase in the number of contract workers hired for the fourth quarter."

China, he added, would likely continue to grow and the outlook for the region is as favorable as it has been since the downturn began.

Employers in the financial services, retail, engineering, property and IT were the most aggressive hirers, while bilingual candidates and those with special product skills and qualifications were commanding the highest salaries, found the recruitment firm.

In Singapore, it observed a strong demand for candidates with very specific skills, such as those with governance expertise in areas like risk and compliance, as well people who trained in dealing with derivatives and commodities. It added that these positions were being sourced locally as overseas talents lacked the necessary skills.

With little competition from overseas applicants and recent graduates who were opting for traditional careers, these candidates were being offered a salary increment of up to 25 percent.

With the least ad increment of all the four economies, Hong Kong employers, at 3.8 percent in Q3 over Q2, might be consolidating their advertising spend, suggested Robert Walters. This underlied the fact that "levels of recruitment in the region continue to be very strong", according to the press release.

Increase in demand for advertising, logistics, property management professionals and legal staff ranged between 3 and 19 percent.

With a burgeoning luxury retail market, China saw an 8.25 percent increase in ads for retail staff. Returning talent from overseas was also getting snapped up for senior positions, with some obtaining an increment of more than 30 percent, said the study.   

Managing director for Robert Walters China, Carter Yang, said: "Most sectors continue to seek high-quality staff, notably banking, luxury goods and retail. The major areas of emphasis in terms of required skills are in sales and business development. There is also a shortage of experienced IT professionals."

Quarter over quarter, Japan's talent requisition for financial services increased a staggering 46 percent, with IT and engineering trailing at 33.8 percent and 21.6 percent.

 "The pickup in hiring that began earlier in the year gathered pace in Q3, with levels of activity at their highest since the start of the downturn. The availability of top-quality candidates remains limited, especially those with bilingual skills," said David Swan, MD for Robert Walters Japan and Korea.

He added that talents with good language skills were sought after by luxury goods retailers to cater to the increasing number of Chinese consumers.


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