Future hiring intentions remain strong in Asia Pacific

Author: PM editorial | Date: 14 Sep 2016

Net employment outlook is positive for Hong Kong and Singapore in Q4 2016, however declines evident year-on-year

Job gains are expected across Asia Pacific during the fourth quarter of this year, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey results, however there are weak spots evident in certain industries.
Of the eight Asia Pacific countries and territories surveyed - a total of 15,000 employers - the net employment outlook was highest in India (+31 per cent), Japan (+23 per cent) and Taiwan (+21 per cent), compared to Q3 2016.
In Hong Kong, a net 13 per cent of employers predict recruitment will increase, compared with 7 per cent in Singapore, however both outlooks were down year-on-year, at -2 per cent and -5 per cent respectively.
China’s forecast was the weakest, with a net 5 per cent of employers predicting growth in jobs for the fourth quarter of 2016.
Singapore’s modest hiring intentions - the weakest forecast since Q3 2009 - means that jobseekers may find the environment challenging over the next few months, said the report.
Of the 646 employers surveyed in Singapore, 13 per cent expected staffing levels to increase, 5 per cent think they will decrease and 73 per cent predict there will be no change.
The forecast is optimistic within the finance, insurance and real estate (+ 19 per cent) and services (+15 per cent) sectors, however employers in mining and construction reported their first negative outlook since 2009 (-2 per cent).
“The hiring sentiment among employers in Singapore is reflective of the current state of the economy. Singapore, being export-driven, has clearly been affected by China’s slumping growth, downturn in commodities and the uncertainty due to Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union,” said Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.
She said the figures also reflected the slow domestic growth the Ministry of Trade and Industry has projected for the economy.
In Hong Kong, staffing levels are expected to increase at a steady pace over the next three months. The strongest labour market is expected to be mining and construction, where the outlook stands at +19 per cent.
According to Lancy Chui, senior vice president at ManpowerGroup’s Greater China region, architectural and engineering firms are gearing up for a hiring spike as a number of major construction projects are expected to commence over the next few years.
“However, employers are facing a decrease in the number of Macau and mainland projects, and some are considering restructuring to lower their operation costs, but the overall hiring pace remains steady in this sector,” she said.
Hong Kong hiring intentions for Q4 were also strong in the transportation and utilities sectors, at +18 per cent and +16 per cent respectively. But compared with the previous year, the numbers were down in services (-9 per cent) and finance, insurance and real estate (-6 per cent).
Overall, the global report suggested that uncertainty around the slowdown of the global economy, the impact of the UK’s referendum and continued financial market volatility appeared to have made little difference to hiring intentions.
Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of Manpower Group, said: “The Brexit vote in the UK, along with other recent geopolitical events, has added an additional level of volatility – real or perceived – to the global economic outlook.
“Despite this uncertainty, the labour market picture remains cautiously positive, with many EU and Eurozone economies slowly pushing back towards pre-recession levels, as well as improving prospects in other key markets like India, Japan and Taiwan."