Asia Desperately Seeking IT Talent

To attract promising workers, employers are increasing compensation and offering more training opportunities

Hiring expectations have fallen this quarter but job prospects remain rosy, so much as that recruiters are finding it difficult to fill IT positions, according to latest findings from human resources agency Hudson.

In its fourth-quarter study of Asia's recruitment trends, Hudson noted that permanent employment expectations have fallen from five-year highs in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The survey polled 2,300 decision makers from multinational organizations of all sizes in major industry sectors in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Hiring expectations have fallen in China from 62 percent in the third quarter to 56 percent this quarter, with similar growth sentiments in Hong Kong where 53 percent plan to hire between October and December, compared to 62 percent in the third quarter. In Singapore, expectations have also fallen from 56 percent to 52 percent in the fourth quarter.

Japan is the only market where hiring expectations remained unchanged. Some 63 percent of respondents indicated plans to hire more staff, the same figure reported for the second and third quarters of 2006. Banks in Japan have the highest expectations, with 75 percent expecting to hire more staff.

Gary Lazzarotto, Hudson's CEO for Asia, said in a statement: "Employment expectations are falling in every market surveyed, expect Japan. However, [hiring expectations] are still [at] a high level, and staff recruitment and retention are seen as the most critical HR challenge across the region.

"Employers are increasing salaries and performance bonuses, and offering more training opportunities to attract the talent they need," he said.

TECH PROSPECTS. Recruiters looking to fill IT-specific positions as well as vacancies in the IT and telecommunications sectors, are having difficulty hiring and retaining staff, particularly in Hong Kong and Singapore, according to Hudson's report.

Demand for sales staff in Hong Kong is strong, particularly in IT and finance, while sales and IT professionals are sought after in Singapore where 22 percent and 19 percent, respectively, of new jobs are from these categories.

Hudson also reported that all of its Hong Kong respondents cited skills shortage as a leading obstacle they face in hiring for positions in the IT and telecommunications sectors.

The human resources agency attributed the continued strong demand for IT personnel to Singapore's rapid development as a regional IT and technology hub, particularly in the banking sector. Higher salary demands also have the greatest impact on hiring in the IT and telecommunications sectors, the report found.

Commenting on these market trends, Andrew Sansom, director of DP Search, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "The recruitment wave surged and peaked in third quarter, and is a little slower in the fourth quarter. [Recruitment drive] in the first quarter, and especially the second quarter, of 2007 will most likely be back up again.

"Invariably when demand is high, the pendulum swings back to become a seller's market and candidates will have multiple job offers and higher expectations, like [they do] now," Sansom added. DP Search is a recruitment agency specializing in the IT and finance industries in Southeast Asia.

Recruitment has been challenging in the wake of higher demand for sales positions and senior IT management roles. "Untypically, we have had a rush [hiring demand for] senior user organization roles such as CIO, CTO and IT director," said Sansom. "Senior IT roles

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