IT hiring in S'pore: Down but not out

Despite the current pessimism pervading the Singapore IT industry, 27.4 percent of companies in the sector are upbeat about hiring, a finding which is based on a study by recruitment firm TMP Worldwide Inc conducted in mid-June.

SINGAPORE--Despite the current pessimism pervading the IT industry, recruitment firm TMP Worldwide Inc said that 27.4 percent of companies in the sector here are upbeat about hiring.

This study, conducted in mid-June, was based on a pool of approximately 650 IT companies in Singapore.

Specifically, TMP Worldwide said that 37.6 percent of IT firms here want to hire more staff in the next three months, while 10.2 percent are expecting to reduce their headcount for the same period. The remaining 52.2 percent are expected to maintain their current level of personnel.

Although the IT industry here is seeing more reduction in headcount compared with other industries, the TMP job index--which is calculated as the percentage of companies recruiting minus the percentage of companies reducing headcount--shows that the IT sector is still doing better than the total industry average. The latter refers to the mean figure derived based on all industries in the Republic, including legal, advertising and communication, chemical/oil, services and IT.

In all, 34.8 percent of companies in Singapore want to increase manpower while 9 percent expect to reduce their staff count. This means the average job index stands at 25.8 percent, compared with the IT industry's job index of 27.4 percent.

Despite this bright spot, however, job prospects do not look as positive for fresh graduates at the moment.

"IT companies would more likely hire people who have some experience and could contribute to the company immediately," TMP Worldwide eResourcing IT and telecommunication divisional manager Lee Beng Khim said. But she added that "meanwhile, fresh graduates should try to grab any contracting opportunities and short-term assignments wherever possible".

She suggested that they should keep an eye on new technologies such as eCustomer Relationship Management, enterprise architectural interface, network management, network securities and wireless.

According to TMP Worldwide, contract and temporary employment expectations are more stable, with 83.8 percent of companies expecting their contract staff to remain compared with 79 percent in the second quarter of 2001 and 76.8 percent in the first quarter.

"Companies in Singapore are contracting more staff to balance out the uncertainties in the industry, and this will continue until the future is clearer," said Lee.

"The IT industry will continue to grow and play an important role. The transition is taking place and we expect things to pick up in the fourth quarter," she added.