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Fewer ads, but IT jobs still available

Seasonality and the credit crunch may have hit appointment advertising volumes in Hong Kong and Singapore during the third quarter, but companies are still seeking tech professionals.

Demand for IT workers in Hong Kong and Singapore was strong in the third quarter of 2008, even as companies posted fewer recruitment ads in the two markets, a new study revealed.

The Robert Walters Asia Job Index Q3 2008 released Thursday showed a decline in job advertisements over the previous quarter.

Announcing the index, the professional recruitment agency noted in a press release that while July and August are traditionally quieter months since key decision makers are usually away during this period, this year's third quarter was also impacted by the global financial crunch. The crisis reached its peak in September, when financial organizations put recruitment lower down their priority list.

However, employers are still on the lookout for IT workers.

In Hong Kong, IT projects continue to be rolled out and this is keeping the recruitment of tech professionals in the country strong.

According to Robert Walters: "There are a large number of projects with long lead times to implement systems that underpin companies' profitability and efficiency. There will always be a need to fill vacant positions."

In Singapore, third-quarter advertising figures reflect a budget that's tightening in terms of hiring flexibility. However, an increase in demand has been experienced for all types of roles that boost revenues.

"Companies are tending to choose more aggressive, sales-oriented personnel," noted the international recruitment consultancy.

In IT, demand for candidates has actually increased in Singapore. As the nation has become the regional center in Asia for multinational banks, an increasing number of sophisticated IT functions are being outsourced to those offices.

"Consequently, Singapore is continuing to grow as a major hub for the IT industry," said Robert Walters.

Mark Ellwood, managing director at the consultancy in Singapore, noted that the island-state's economy has so far held up relatively well.

"However, it's the first Asian country to announce that it is in a technical recession, so it was no surprise to see a reduction in the number of jobs advertised in the third quarter," Ellwood said in the press release.

"Despite this, there is still demand for high-quality candidates as good talent is always hard to find," he added.

The index tracks advertisements by number in the executive appointment sections of leading newspapers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Job advertisement numbers are counted as of the last working day of each month.