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Lynne Roeder

Temporary workers may hold the key to alleviating Singapore's skills shortages

BY LYNNE ROEDER

According to a recent Hays survey, 40 percent of candidates in Singapore are now more open to temporary/contract work than they were in recent years.

Of the 878 respondents who participated in the survey, 40 percent said temporary/contract work is now more of an attractive option than in the past. A further 37 percent of respondents claimed no change in attitude to temporary/contract work, while the remaining 23 percent view it as less attractive.

In previous years, there were common perceptions that temporary/contract work was limited to entry-level office support or administrative jobs. However, this is no longer the case as employers grapple with an increasingly tightening talent pool as a result of the Fair Consideration Framework and worsening skills shortages.

Professionals at all levels and across various sectors are now being employed on a temporary basis to help alleviate skills shortages. Where we are finding the use of temporary workers or contractors increasing is within areas of high candidate demand such as Know Your Customer (KYC) professionals and finance talent within the banking industry, as well as project-based developers in the IT sector.

This is backed by findings of the 2016 Hays Asia Salary Guide, a separate report released earlier this year, where as many as 60 percent of employers surveyed said they had used a flexible staffing approach in the past 12 months, and 19 percent expect to increase their use of temporary staff in 2016.

We are seeing more organisations open to hiring temporary staff as a lasting answer to their manpower needs. At the same time, more jobseekers are considering contract work to reap the benefits that non-permanent employment can offer.

Benefits for job seekers include:

Skills advancement: Temporary/contract assignments allow professionals to expand their expertise, expose them to new industries, and also build new skills and experience. A varied and flexible skill set enhances employability in the eye of future employers.

Work-life balance: By choosing to work as a career contractor, candidates can handpick and choose assignments that suit their schedule, enabling them more control and flexibility over their working life.

Expanded networks: With every temporary assignment, contractors further build their professional network as they meet new peers in their field. This can be invaluable when seeking temporary or permanent job opportunities in the future.

Benefits for employers include:

Talent on demand: Flexible hiring enables employers to recruit specific skills or expertise as and when they need for special projects, peak seasonal times, or unanticipated workloads. The extra advantage of the short notice period of contractors also helps employers be nimble in reacting to challenges in their business cycle.

Trialling talent: Many businesses use temporary workers on a trial basis to assess their capability and cultural compatibility with the organisation. This "try before you buy" method diminishes the risk associated with long-term commitment to a permanent hire.

Filling skills gaps: To address increasing skills shortages, contractors present an excellent opportunity to fill gaps temporarily. Rather than having to reallocate work amongst existing employees, which can cause stress and impact productivity, temporary resources can alleviate strain and provide support to an existing permanent team and help maintain productivity levels for a business.

We advocate the benefits of temporary and contract employment and look to give more employers access to a wealth of talented contract professionals to help effectively manage their workforce. Contracting is here to stay and the more we can support employers by providing temporary talent, the more I believe we can do to help alleviate skills shortages in Singapore's workforce.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Lynne Roeder

Lynne Roeder

Lynne Roeder is Managing Director of Hays in Singapore. She has over 17 years of experience within the recruitment industry across the UK, Australia, and Asia. Prior to relocating to Singapore, Lynne was Regional Director of Hays in Australia, where she managed teams across the country in many specialisms.

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