Asia sees jump in hiring expectations

Companies in most sectors optimistic about new hires, as HR priorities--especially in IT and telecoms--focus on developing and retaining talent, finds new report.

Hiring expectations for the fourth quarter of 2009 are expected to increase across three Asian economies, where companies in the IT and telecommunication sector say they are willing to hire candidates who have been unemployed for a period of time, according to a new report released Thursday.

According to the quarterly employment report from executive recruiter Hudson, Hong Kong was most optimistic about their hiring plans, where 35 percent of 500 companies surveyed said they planned to increase new hires in fourth quarter 2009, compared to 22 percent in the previous quarter.

This was followed by Singapore companies, where 34 percent of respondents reported plans to increase their new hires in the fourth quarter, up from 26 percent in the previous quarter. Over 600 respondents were based in the island-state.

Conducted in August, the survey polled nearly 2,000 key employment decision makers in China--Beijing and Shanghai--Hong Kong, and Singapore, according to Hudson.

The recruit firm said respondents in the IT and telecoms (IT&T) sector also indicated expectations of increasing their hiring activities, as many global IT companies are looking to expand their Asian operations to support existing clients and to capture new business. Hudson also cited strong demand from the public sector as a driver for headcount growth in the IT&T industry segment.

"Employers report a significant jump in hiring expectations this quarter, and most sectors are increasingly optimistic about job prospects," Gina McLellan, Hudson's country manager for Singapore, said in the report.

Focus on talent development, retention
The survey also noted that talent development and staff retention were seen as key HR priorities, especially in the IT&T sector.

Hudson said companies in this industry segment are making "strenuous efforts" to retain key staff as companies in this sector face stiff competition for talent when the economic environment is favorable.

Respondents in the IT&T sector were the most open to hiring candidates who have a prolonged period of unemployment. Among the respondents in Singapore, 60 percent said they would employ such candidates, while only 5 percent said they would not.

Some 35 percent of Singaporean respondents see specialist skills as a valid reason for hiring those with prolonged unemployment.

According to Hudson, niche skills are vital in the IT&T sector, where candidates with such skills can be difficult to find. In addition, 22 percent of respondents highlighted higher qualifications as a reason for hiring a candidate.

In Hong Kong, respondents in IT&T were more confident about finding local talent for senior positions.