Contracting in Singapore – A year on

Morgan McKinley 20.03.2017

I embarked on the recruitment sector’s contracts market in Singapore as a Technology recruiter a year ago. Since then we have seen the contract market flourish with even permanent candidates that are happy to move across into new and exciting projects.

I am going to outline the changes that triggered this and what it has meant for trends within the technology market:

Local talent – Morgan McKinley has seen an exponential increase in the number of local candidates who are interested in contract roles. This is due to a closer match in benefits when compared to permanent roles and the compensations being more attractive. Moreover, with the demand for local talents working in the technology space is at its highest; we took this opportunity to promote the contracts market with several schemes. First, Morgan McKinley kicked off with Singapore’s Work Development Agency’s (WDA) ‘Career Support Programme for Individuals’ and used this scheme to place numerous ‘mature’ Singaporean candidates into contract positions in the past year. Topping it all off, we have received great feedback on how the scheme and a contract has provided a coherent solution to both candidates and clients. 
In addition, the contract market allows more women with family responsibilities to return to work in flexible roles and ultimately, this mutually benefits both employers and employees. So far, Morgan McKinley has hired over 10 Singaporean females with flexible working arrangements to assist them in seamlessly integrating themselves back into the bustling workforce. 
Graduate programmes – These 12-month contracts have given graduates their first step into the technology industry with various leading organisations. They have helped to give these fresh minds a good taste of what’s to expect and enabled to secure potential permanent roles within the current organisation.

The Market – Budgets have significantly reduced this year as there is uncertainty in the global economy. While events such as Brexit and the US election had contributed to the aftermath however, this mainly revolves around the financial services and commerce space and has little to no impact in any of the new technology projects that are funded in Singapore. Nevertheless, contracting has overcome this hurdle by providing a low-risk solution to employers by leveraging on the temporary nature of projects and understanding that organisations have no need for expert talent post-completion of the program.

Knowledge – Candidates are curious about what is going on in the contract market. Meeting with them gives us the opportunity to present to them what they can expect from the job before submitting their CV to the hiring organisation. This also helps in assuring the candidates in the long run.
Likewise, educating our clients as to the benefits of contracting has also proved to be very fruitful. Thus, contract market has definitely opened up further options to them.

Internal headcount – Organisations are currently facing greater difficulties to get sign-offs for permanent headcounts such as the lengthy duration required which also delays the already extensive process. These are considerable issues that impede hiring managers. Technology is fast paced and without the right resources on-site, the projects will not be able to be delivered within the deadlines. However, by engaging contractors this has enabled hiring managers to overcome the above difficulties with ease. The approval now takes days rather than weeks and interview processes require up to a week only. That being said, I don’t usually have a role open for more than 2 weeks!

Recruitment standards – Just because we are hiring more contractors, does not mean that the recruitment standards for technology candidates have dropped. In fact, a candidate receives more exposure on large scale projects which in turn, adds to their skills significantly. This would grant them notable competitive advantages when they move from one project to another as their experiences build up.

Mergers and Acquisitions – Dell/ EMC has become the biggest technology company in the world following their merger. We also saw HP and CSC join forces, which did cause charges within their internal structures but also opened the door for contract hiring. 

When it comes to market trends, we have seen a number of positions which are in particular demand within the contract market:
•    Business Analysts – The increase of the large multi-country implementation programmes has resulted in high demand for BA’s. Stakeholder management and understanding technology are key skill sets to excel.
•    Project Manager – Senior positions have been opened up to those interested in contracting.
•    Mobile App Developers – Organisations are going through a digitisation phase where going mobile is the key to bringing their business closer to customers. In particular, there has been demand for junior to mid-level roles with IOs experience.
•    Java Developers – Although this skill set has always been in demand we have seen more senior roles open up in the contract market.
•    Testers – Automation testers have become a key hire for technology projects, due to their need for each phase. This causes contract roles to be frequently rolled over and candidates can expect an extension of the contract. 

Although the contract market has come a long way in the past year we are still a long way from where we could be. More flexibility and higher rates are expected however, we don’t foresee the Singapore contract market being anywhere near that of the UK or US just yet.  If you are interested in hearing about our services or active roles we currently have, please feel free to email me.

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