Job ads up in second quarter of 2010: Asia Job Index

But Robert Walters warns of ‘cautious optimism’ in eco outlook

Job advertisements in Asia recovered in the second quarter of 2010 with some sectors regaining the levels attained during the pre-financial crisis period.

According to Robert Walters' recent Asia Job Index, job ads placed in the second quarter 2010 increased 85.9 per cent against the same quarter of 2009 and up 35.8 per cent from the first quarter of this year.

The international recruitment consultancy firm said this increase is "a strong indication that employer confidence has returned".

However, it also noted that the numbers might not be sustainable, particularly in some sectors and in China. The consultancy firm then added that "the general outlook for the region is nevertheless one of cautious optimism".

"The picture across Asia is one of maintained growth and increased stability as economies begin to grow again and employers seek to fill roles to aid this growth and development," the Asia Job Index report stated.

The quarterly index tracks advertisements by number in the executive appointments sections of the key publications and job boards across the region.

Across countries and sectors

"Confidence across Asia has been maintained in the second quarter and we have seen some significant investment in business across the board," said Mark Ellwood, managing director, Robert Walters Asia.

He also noted that hiring in the second quarter of 2010 was not carried out just to replace positions cut during the recession. Rather, new employees are being hired to grow the business.

For the same quarter, China and Japan have the largest increases in job advertisements with 90.2 per cent and 88.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the same period in 2009.

The number of job advertisements has also increased in all regions in comparison to first quarter figures. Singapore is up 13.7 per cent; Hong Kong, 31.5 per cent; Japan, 34.3 per cent; and China, 36.7 per cent.

Carter Yang, managing director, Robert Walters China, said: "Businesses are growing in the China market. Feedback from both financial services and commercial organisations has been very positive and the majority of people agree that business activity levels continue to pick up. We have seen a steady rise in job advertisements from the first quarter and continuing momentum from April to June."

Almost all sectors have also seen an increase in the number of jobs advertised in the second quarter as compared to the first quarter.

Sectors that registered the most significant increases in job advertisements were information technology (IT) and human resources (HR), specifically IT in Japan and Hong Kong (19.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent, respectively) and HR in Hong Kong and Japan (7.7 per cent and 24.8 per cent, respectively).

Andrea Ross, managing director of Robert Walters Singapore, stressed that the firm has not spotted dips in the review period. She further noted that financial services and commerce have been observed to perform the "strongest" since pre-crisis levels.

Growth trend to continue

"In fact, we have seen a return to 2006-07 levels in terms of the opportunities for candidates," Ross said. "We have also seen improvement on the corporate advisory side which is a clear sign of the market recovering, resulting in an uplift in jobs in sectors such as compliance, audit and risk management."

Ross explained that the jump in the consumer confidence level has also affected the consumer banking business in a positive manner.

Still, the HR firm remains cautious with its outlook.

"Candidates and employers are expressing much more positive attitudes and there has been an increase in counter offers and buy backs," the report stated. "However, question marks remain, particularly with regards to financial services, as to whether hiring and advertising activity can be sustained at current levels during the third quarter."

Ross said a possible slowdown may take place at the end of the third quarter though this is expected.

"This is traditionally a time when candidates in the financial services sector are less likely to move as we approach the bonus season," she explained.

Overall, however, she expressed confidence that the growth trend will continue. "A noticeable increment would be on the contract opportunities that exist for both IT and non-IT functions, with contract lengths ranging from six to 12 months, as companies start to favour a more flexible workforce," Ross said.

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