Singapore: Talent Crunch Hits IT Hard

Average salaries for top IT positions have gone up by as much as 52% thanks to a tight labor market and stronger competition for talent

Average salaries for top IT positions have gone up by as much as 52 percent in Singapore, thanks to a tight labor market and stronger competition to attract talent, says recruitment company Hudson.

In its latest salary guide of IT and telecommunications professionals, Hudson reported that the average starting salary for chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) in Singapore have gone up from S$250,000 (US$163,130) in 2005 to S$280,000 (US$182,726) last year. At the top end, salaries have scaled up to S$380,000 (US$247,986).

Yeo Gek Cheng, director of Hudson's IT&T industry practice in Singapore, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "The increase is due to the job market picking up, resulting in more competition for [executives at] this management level."

According to Hudson, much of the competition for such senior talent is in the banking space.

"Singapore has seen an unprecedented amount of back-office relocation from head office banks in the last few years, [among] top-tier investment banks," Yeo said.

"This has created huge demand for senior technology heads within a very small working population, plus you have the big three Singaporean banks and [others like] Standard Chartered Bank all competing to secure the service of the leading candidates," she added.

Hudson also attributed the salary increments to "more movement at this level for 2006" due to recovery in the market.

"Candidates tend to negotiate for better salaries when they change jobs, so the overall figure in the market will increase. That's not surprising at all in a market where top talent is scarce and top candidates are in limited supply," Yeo said. "In addition, 2006 was a better year compared to 2005, so the bonus component would have been better as well."

However, average salaries remained stable for these senior IT management positions in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan. Touching on the disparity, Yeo explained: "Hong Kong and Tokyo are more mature markets with existing IT departments within the technology space, so the rise of senior level IT salaries in Singapore would be from a core group of banks in expansion mode."

She added that Singapore salaries could still rise further as "they are still a long way behind Hong Kong and Tokyo".

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