China's companies forge ahead with staffing plans

More than half of Chinese companies plan to up recruitment drive in third quarter of 2012 despite uncertain global economy, which is more bullish than counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Chinese employers exude the most confidence in terms of hiring expectations compared to their counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore, despite the country's economy decelerating somewhat in recent times.

On Tuesday, executive recruitment agency Hudson revealed in its report that 56.2 percent of companies in China are planning to increase their recruitment activities in the third quarter of 2012. By comparison, 37.7 percent of employers in Hong Kong and 34.7 percent from Singapore indicated they will do likewise, it added.

Conducted in June this year, the survey polled 634 employers from China, 432 from Hong Kong, and 567 from Singapore for their hiring plans between July and September.

Commenting on the Chinese market, Lily Bi, joint-general manager of Hudson Shanghai, said: "The latest hiring expectation figures are linked to the fact that China's economy is less heated of late. As a consequence, employer optimism has cooled a little too."

It is still a very robust economy though, which is she thinks there will still be healthy hiring intentions overall, Bi stated.

Cautious from unsettled global economy
Hong Kong and Singapore, however, display more caution in terms of their hiring plans for the third quarter given the uncertain global economic climate.

Hong Kong, for instance, saw a drop of 3.3 percent in employers planning to increase staff count from the second quarter of 41 percent. About 54.6 percent indicated they will maintain employee strength while 7.6 percent has plans to downsize their staff, the survey showed.

Tony Pownall, general manager of Hudson Hong Kong, said: "The latest hiring expectations reflect that Hong Kong employers are feeling positive but cautious. In addition to the unsettled global economic outlook, organizations are facing complex challenges when it comes to human capital.

"There's upward pressure on salaries, shortages of appropriately qualified and skilled employees, and widespread disconnect between the skillsets many people have and those employers are looking for. Unemployment is low too, so it can be very hard to find the right people to fill [these] roles," said Pownall.

As for Singapore, it saw a 7.7 percent decrease in employers planning to hire from 42.4 percent in the previous quarter, Hudson noted. Those looking to retain their current headcount constituted 57.8 percent of companies while 7.4 percent said they will reduce their workforce.

Most companies in the city-state are looking for greater stability in the United States and Europe before committing to significant expansion of their workforces, even as the country displays signs of an economic slowdown, said Andrew Tomich, executive general manager of Hudson Singapore.

"Current market sentiment is best described as cautious, so it's crucial for companies to invest in people who can help them navigate these turbulent times," Tomich noted.

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