Look forward to higher wages in Singapore

IT professionals in the island state are in a "very strong position" to negotiate for better pay, according to recruitment firm.

There has "never been a better time" for job-hunting IT professionals in Singapore, according to Sapphire Technologies.

Richard Talbot, general manager of the IT recruitment firm, said IT professionals in the country are likely to be able to command higher pay in their next roles, due to the shortage of skilled workers and the low unemployment rate here, which is steady at 2 percent.

The country's strong banking and finance sector is also helping to push salaries upward; banks are continuing to invest in the country in spite of financial troubles in the United States and Europe, added Talbot in a statement Thursday.

He said: “IT professionals with strong banking experience, especially those with investment banking experience, can expect continuing demand for their skills."

The logistics sector is also posting demand for IT professionals, according to Sapphire.

The downside for employers during this climate is the inevitable rise in expected wages when hiring new staff now, noted Talbot.

"Looking ahead, IT workers will be in a very strong position to negotiate what they want from their employer,” says Talbot.

According to recruitment firm Robert Walters, the average salary of IT professionals in Singapore went up by 10 to 20 percent last year. There were scenarios where some candidates' wages increased by over 40 percent, said Robert Walters.

Additionally, contract-based employment may pose a viable alternative for some, according to recruitment agency, Hudson, which told ZDNet Asia recently that contracts allow both employer and employee to evaluate each other first before committing, while also paying contract employees significantly more than permanent staff in terms of base salary.

However, things may not be rosy for a long time. Hudson published a report in April on the effects of a recession on companies' hiring activities--58 percent of respondents in Singapore said they would reduce hiring activities in the second quarter of 2008 in the event of a recession.