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Asia – Professional job advertisements rise

26 November 2013

International recruitment firm Robert Walters (RWA: LSE) published its Asia Job Index for Q3 2013, reporting a +9.9% increase in the number of jobs advertised for professional positions across the region compared with Q2 2013. Compared with Q3 2012, the number of jobs advertised rose by +20.5% across the region.

The Job Index tracks advertisement volumes for professional positions across the leading job boards and national newspapers in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.

Year-on-year advertisement numbers rose strongly in China (+24%), Japan (+13%) and Malaysia (12.8%), as some parts of the region saw an improvement in business confidence and an increased demand for skilled candidates.

Richard Parnell, CEO of Robert Walters Asia Pacific & North America, commented: “Some Asian government policies are significantly shaping economic trends, which is in turn impacting the recruitment market. This is most evident in Japan and China, where direct investment and currency devaluation is boosting economic output and job numbers.”

“In Singapore the Fair Consideration Framework to ensure fair hiring practices, is the most recent policy we have seen to directly impact the recruitment market, increasing advertising numbers. Malaysia continues to be an interesting story. With its modern infrastructure and low cost of business, it continues to attract bug multinational corporations to hub in the country,” he concluded.   

Advertising figures in Hong Kong reported a rise of +6.6% compared with last year, but modest growth of +1.4% compared with the previous quarter. Government spending on housing projects supported a +6.6% increase in advertised jobs within property management, quarter-on-quarter. Adverts for legal and compliance professionals rose by +17.1% as the financial regulatory body continued to enforce new laws that required banks to employ a minimum number of compliance professionals. Advertising and marketing maintained its position as one of the largest sectors for job advertisements, but overall numbers fell slightly by 2.8% which was expected given the traditionally quieter months of July and August.

Matthew Bennett, Managing Director for Robert Walters Greater China,observed: “Whilst retail spending has slowed, government building and infrastructure projects, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, are supporting the demand for skills in areas, which include engineering and surveying, with job adverts up +6.2% for the quarter. The banking sector continues to go through its period of realignment with further regulation being imposed. This situation continues to feed the demand for compliance and legal professionals.”

Job advertising numbers in Singapore grew by +16.1% against Q2 2013, but fell by -21.4% compared with Q3 2012. Advertised positions within property management were up +66.1% compared with last quarter, as the construction of residential and commercial buildings continued to grow in order to meet the demand for the growing population. The government’s Fair Consideration Framework to be implemented in August 2014, which is designed to boost employment among Singaporean citizens, is already increasing the number of job adverts. In particular, within the administrative and clerical space. The number of positions advertised within IT remained buoyant, increasing +16.6% in comparison to Q2 as the sector continues to be a source of corporate growth.

Toby Fowlston, Managing Director Robert Walters Singapore, stated: “The government’s Fair Consideration Framework to be implemented in August 2014 is facilitating an increase in the number of job adverts as companies look to encourage local talent to remain in the country as well as attract others to return from overseas. While offshore banking has been relocating back office operations to cheaper regions, we see continued demand for IT and marketing professionals in Singapore as companies remain driven to showcase their products and improve their infrastructure.”

Job advertisements in Malaysia fell by -5.6% on the previous quarter, but rose by +12.8% against the third quarter of 2012. Generally, this quarter-on-quarter dip was due to a majority of hiring being conducted in the first half of 2013 to meet demands in growth and business plans. Retail servicing as well as accountancy and finance, the two largest sectors by job adverts, fell by -5.8% and -10.6%, respectively, in comparison to Q2; although this did not reflect sector activity. Medical services did buck the trend, up +21.3% on the previous quarter as the sector continues to boom and is in demand for pharmaceutical representatives and clinical assistants.

Sally Raj, Country Manager Robert Walters Malaysia, commented: “After a strong first half, jobs advertising dipped in Q3, but this was more of a reflection on the growth in recruitment via other mediums such as recruitment consultancies. The ongoing push from the Malaysian government on returning Malaysians will continue to meet the demands of expertise required in the fields of engineering, oil & gas and infrastructure development. Multinationals continued to choose Malaysia as their regional hub, and the on-going establishment of shared service centres in Malaysia fed more demand for accountants, finance analysts and IT experts. As companies look towards implementing retention plans in order to keep their key talent and structure more attractive employment packages, talent acquisitions and management skills are in high demand among HR professionals.”

Job advertising figures in China were up +10.5% compared to Q2, and up +24% year-on-year, which was a significant increase. Traditionally Q3 is a quieter quarter when candidates are not looking to change jobs as they move closer to the bonus period. A number of sectors witnessed a considerable growth in advertised roles including customer servicing, which was the biggest riser (up +24.5%) as corporations chose China as a hub for their shared service centres. Property management also rose significantly (up +22.7%) as real estate companies sought to improve the utilisation rates of properties that were built in previous years on market speculation. Advertised positions within retail servicing rose 12.6% as consumer industries continued to grow their footprints in tier two and tier three cities.

Arthur Wang, Managing Director of Robert Walters China, stateded: “With the new government on board there is a sense of improved optimism and great support for the government’s strategy to shift China’s economy away from pure manufacturing and move towards service industries. As this continues to progress, demand for accountants, lawyers and retail servicing experts is likely to remain strong.”

Levels of recruitment advertising in Japan grew +10.4% on the previous quarter and by +13% year-on-year. Retail servicing saw one of the largest increases, up +10.1% compared to Q2, which can be attributed to the increase in consumer spending, due to greater confidence in the economy and job security. Medical services also saw a significant rise of +10.6% as medical device companies continued to grow in Japan and the requirement for sales people within this space rose. Big data is leading to a growth in demand for IT experts and is creating new roles, with adverts up 7.1% and within the car industry, increasing demand for ‘Mechatronic’ engineers, who combine mechanical and electronic engineering techniques, was part of the +10.3% rise in job adverts within engineering. Roles within design and creative also saw a considerable rise of +13%, with website and app developers in demand.

David Swan, Managing Director of Robert Walters Japan & South Korea, commented: “The improving economy is certainly creating more confidence and this can be seen in the Q3 advertising figures. Companies are more committed to increasing their headcount and candidates are willing to look around for new opportunities. Manufacturing has seen much improvement and the devaluation of the Yen is driving exports. Another encouraging sign of the improving economic confidence is the +14.2% rise in job adverts for administrative and secretarial staff, indicating that companies are looking at corporate expansion.”

The number of job advertisements in South Korea dropped marginally by 1.5% on the previous quarter and were down almost 5% year-on-year. Despite the recorded 3.5% fall from Q2 2013 in IT job adverts, there was good demand from multinationals working within the gaming and software sectors. The ageing South Korean population continues to support the medical services sector, with job adverts increasing by 15.4% on the previous quarter. Retail servicing and sales, the largest sector for job adverts, saw a slight decline of 2.1% in comparison to Q2 which was expected, given traditionally lower levels of candidate movement in Q3. However the sector remained resilient despite caution over South Korea’s level of economic growth.

Anthony Modrich, Country Manager Robert Walters Korea, commented: “Although there is an element of caution, consumer spending has been increasing slightly and new positions within large multinational corporations are beginning to emerge in line with improving confidence in the global economy. Locally there continues to be an element of up-skilling, but overall, South Korean companies are not looking to increase their headcounts significantly. One trend that has continued during recent months, but at lower levels, is the entrance of international companies into the country.”

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