Singapore's economy grew 3.9% in Q2 of 2018; easing from the 4.5% growth in Q1.

On a quarter on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised basis, the economy grew at a slower pace of 0.6 per cent compared to the 2.2 per cent growth in the preceding quarter.

human resources Q2 2018 highlights:

human resources professionals

When economists and authorities forecasted GDP growth for 2018 to be between 2.5% and 3.5% last year, companies started their hiring activities much earlier to build their human resources (HR) capabilities to manage the expected organisational growth. This has resulted in a steady talent demand throughout the year instead of the hiring boost that we’d typically see between April and September every year.

American and European companies that were looking to expand their global footprint in Asia Pacific (APAC) have made several key hires for senior-level management roles at the Vice President or Director levels to strategise human capital plans and lead several HR teams within the region. On the flip side, companies with a smaller workforce size in APAC were more likely to employ more functional-focused senior HR managers to lead the local team.

We also saw an increasing demand for in-house recruiting roles as companies invested more to develop internal HR capabilities. Candidates with strong stakeholder management skills and who are experienced in building a strong employer brand were highly sought-after, with some receiving multiple job offers.

With a rapidly growing online customer base, companies needed to re-create their compensation and benefits (C&B) models to ensure that their sales staff in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar are fairly incentivised and rewarded. Companies actively hired senior C&B professionals who are commercially-focused and experienced in developing multiplex compensation structures.


As more startups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) firm up their business expansion plans this year, we saw more companies hire talent acquisitions (TA) professionals to manage recruitment activities internally and build a sustainable talent pipeline.

Instead of spending time developing local materials and conducting face-to-face training sessions with their staff, HR teams are now investing in learning and development software to build online training programmes. These training programmes can be accessed by everyone around the world at any time, reducing the time and resources that typically go into such internal training programmes substantially. Learning and development specialists who are experienced in the implementation and support of online training platforms were highly demanded.

life sciences

In general, there were more replacement roles than new opportunities at the managerial level in Q2 this year. These manager-level HR professionals are usually expected to manage a small team.

The number of life sciences startups in Singapore grew in 2018, and these companies took advantage of government grants to increase their operations here. These startups typically hire traditional end-to-end HR generalists who have strong business acumen to engage and partner with key stakeholders.

Life sciences companies are also more likely to engage recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) companies for their hiring needs instead of building internal HR capabilities.

fast moving consumer goods

Jumping on the digital bandwagon, many retailers and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have invested in new HR management tools and training systems to deepen capabilities, improve productivity and drive efficiencies. As a result of these new digital solutions, HR professionals in learning & development were highly sought-after.

Complementing the learning & development function, we saw companies hire talent management professionals to build and manage the internal talent pipeline as well as groom future leaders within the company.

banking and financial services

We saw a higher-than-usual demand for HR operational roles that are focused on functional delivery instead of business partnering within the banking and financial services sector in Q2. While these are typically individual contributor roles, candidates are still required to lead a small team.

Banks and financial institutions are also choosing to outsource TA and in-house recruitment roles to low-cost countries. This resulted in a dip in demand for these professionals in Singapore.

While contractors remain to be the major makeup of HR teams, we are starting to see more permanent opportunities within banks and financial institutions. This is because employers are trying to spend their permanent headcount budget before the year concludes.


Companies that want to have a competitive advantage in today’s fast-moving market environment will need an agile and flexible workforce that is both prepared and capable of addressing challenges quickly. In addition to financial institutions and technology companies, organisations in logistics, industrial and engineering are also becoming more open to having a flexible workforce.

We saw companies hire more senior HR contractors to consult on new transformation projects, mergers and acquisitions or to fill interim roles such as project management or maternity covers.

Even as contractors, HR professionals are expected to take on a business-partnering role and are generally responsible for advising the management teams on human capital strategies and performance. Influential and data-driven HR practitioners who have strong consultative skills were therefore highly sought-after.


  • Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore. 13 August 2018. MTI Maintains 2018 GDP Growth Forecast at “2.5 to 3.5 Per Cent”.

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