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Weathering the storm: Business CIOs are safest

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 11, 2009
What will be the information technology employment landscape for 2009? What are the best strategies for survival? A range of pundits share their views about IT recruitment, salary and employment prospects for the year ahead.

According to Yeo Gek Cheng, director, IT&T, Hudson Singapore, 2009s first quarter will be a key determinant of what the recruitment market will look like for the rest of the year.

Yeo says Singapore, like many Asian markets, is still short of top talent and while the financial turmoil impact might make it less of a shortage situation, it does not change the situation fundamentally. Good candidates will always be in demand.

Revenue generation first

Any IT role related to revenue generation will be a priority whereas IT roles classified as cost headcount will be scrutinised, she says. Lean and mean is the way to go. Aggressively pursuing ASEAN markets outside of Singapore, to boost revenue, will also come into play.

Yeo says recruitment cycles come and go. The dot-com bomb and SARs took their toll for a total of three years and the market came back up beautifully after that, she says.

Her key advice? Focus on building skills and experience as well as keeping industry network and contacts current. Let the market ride out this particular down phase.

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Singapores minister for information, communications and the arts, says: Globally, there is increasing demand for infocomm talentpeople who possess both the technical skills and the business knowledge. He was speaking at the Singapore Computer Society Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards 2008 ceremony.

The next generation of infocomm professionals has to possess more than just sound infocomm skills, Dr Lee says. They must also be well-equipped with domain knowledge of different businesses to be able to offer solutions and services primed to the needs of each specific business environment.

Patersons HR & Payroll Solutions global human resources director, Martyn Puttick, says the market is still very active and the demand for good quality senior IT staff remains very competitive.

Retaining good staff

With the financial turmoil and resulting need to shed staff, companies are retaining the good staff, if at all possible, Puttick says. Due to this, salaries have not yet been affected.

By Q2 in 2009, we feel the demand for skilled IT staff will slow down and the market will be saturated with a broad range of IT skilled staff. This will drive down salary expectations and potentially the types of contracts offered.

Puttick says there seems to be an increasing trend towards more creative contracts that give employers a lot more flexibility in the type and length of employment.  

We feel this will become more common as employers will look for reduced financial commitment to new staff, he says. Senior IT staff with a good reputation in the market will not be affected. However, within certain sectors such as banking, retail and manufacturing, the need for senior IT staff will see a dramatic downturn with companies consolidating and centralising services.  


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