IT, finance firms upbeat on 2020 first-half prospects: Poll

Economic climate, suitable talent, expanding business opportunities cited as factors

Economic uncertainty has not dented the confidence of Singapore's business leaders about prospects for the new year.

A survey noted that 55 per cent of the 228 respondents from the information technology and finance sectors said they were very confident about company growth in the first half of next year, while 41 per cent were "somewhat confident".

Both results are similar to the global figures of 56 per cent who were very confident and 40 per cent who were somewhat confident.

The remaining 4 per cent here said they were "not at all confident".

Respondents said the main considerations influencing their level of confidence were the economic climate, attracting suitable talent and expanding business opportunities, the survey by recruitment firm Robert Half found.

It also noted that 40 per cent of Singapore respondents said they plan to increase their permanent headcount next year by adding new positions to their teams.

Another 40 per cent plan to maintain staff levels and focus on filling vacated positions.

The priorities regarding temporary roles are different, noted Robert Half, with a greater share of firms planning to maintain headcount than those intending to add new positions.

The online survey conducted in October covered 5,165 chief financial officers, chief information officers and general managers from 13 economies.

 
 

"Singapore's drive to become a Smart Nation and a digital transformation leader continues to be the catalyst for jobs, as companies look for talent to rapidly digitise their organisation to remain competitive on the regional and global economic stage," said Robert Half Singapore managing director Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard.

"This, in turn, also explains the demand for IT contractors as companies rely on experienced contract professionals to lead and assist with their digital transformation initiatives and projects."

Other recent surveys here have painted a mixed picture of business sentiment for the year ahead.

Business confidence rose to +5.31 percentage points for the first quarter of next year from the near two-year low of +4.82 percentage points for the fourth quarter of this year, said the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau earlier this month.

But a net weighted balance of 5 per cent of manufacturers expect business to be worse in the six months to March next year, compared with the third quarter of this year, according to an Economic Development Board poll out on Oct 31.

Service firms saw a net weighted balance of 1 per cent expecting business to be better in the coming half-year, the Department of Statistics said, also on Oct 31.

 
 

In terms of hiring, a labour market report from the Ministry of Manpower last week showed that the seasonally adjusted number of job vacancies fell for the third consecutive quarter to 42,200 in September, down from 47,700 in June, although the pace of decline slowed.

But a survey out last week from recruitment firm ManpowerGroup found that the pace of hiring is expected to pick up during the first three months of next year, with a net employment outlook of +9 per cent, up 5 percentage points from the previous quarter.