More contract IT jobs expected in S'pore

To overcome headcount restrictions, many roles traditionally offered as permanent jobs will be converted into contract positions this year, new survey finds.

SINGAPORE--A significantly higher number of jobs in the country will be offered on a contract basis this year, as organizations look for flexible employment terms to circumvent headcount restrictions, a human resource survey revealed.

According to the Robert Walters Singapore Salary Survey 2009 released Wednesday, many roles that were traditionally offered as permanent jobs will be converted into contract positions.

"With organizations looking to justify each and every permanent headcount, we would expect the majority of requirements for project initiatives to be offered as contract opportunities," the survey noted.

The human resource agency, which offers recruitment services for mid- to senior-level IT positions, anticipates that candidates applying for these jobs will warm up to contract roles as the perceived job security that permanent positions offers, lessens during the recession.

On whether this employment practice will continue after the recession, Adam Bowden, manager of the recruiter's IT commerce division, noted that it is too soon to determine either way.

However, Bowden told ZDNet Asia in an interview, the recession could be "a launch pad for continued acceptance" of contract employment after the economy turns for the better.

According to the Robert Walters report, demand for candidates with experience in project management, service delivery, business analysis, network implementation and infrastructure consolidation, will be particularly strong throughout 2009.

Bowden said projects resulting from the S$1.14 billion (US$749 million) worth of infocomm tenders that the Singapore government announced last year, will also boost the popularity of contract jobs in the island-state.

"Also, when the Youth Olympic Games comes to Singapore in 2010, contract-based tech skills will be required for that as well," Bowden said.

Slower hiring rate
Not surprisingly, Robert Walters expects slower recruitment this year in Singapore's financial services sector, where salaries are likely to be static or to rise only moderately.

Despite the decline, the recruitment firm anticipates continued demand by the sector for candidates with experience in service delivery, project management, risk and regulatory applications, systems architecture, application support and infrastructure operations.

As organizations in the manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceuticals and petrochemical sectors move toward outsourcing non-core IT functions, Robert Walters expects to see headcount reductions in this area, particularly at the junior to mid-level.

For job candidates, the silver lining is that as outsourcing becomes more prevalent, user organizations will look for candidates with experience in vendor, contract and relationship management, when recruiting mid- to senior-level IT professionals in 2009.

According to the survey, there will be high demand for experienced SAP consultants, service delivery managers and quality assurance professionals.