The Asian market is on the move. The majority of operators across the region are once again looking to expand headcount while three-quarters of staff say they are on the lookout for new opportunities. And salary increases are back in fashion.
Services providers understand they have to boost salaries up to 10% to retain staff and need to offer 10-20% increases to attract top talent, according to an online survey jointly conducted in July and August by Telecom Asia and RP International.
More than 60% of the HR managers surveyed say they were likely to add staff over the next six to 12 months. Nine percent are uncertain if they will expand while 30% have no plans to add staff (see chart 1).
Of those hiring, 43% plan to expand by up to 5%, almost 30% expect to grow 5-10%, and another 28% will increase headcount by more than 10%.
These figures are supported by Hudson's Q3 report, which found 65% of companies in China, Hong Kong and Singapore plan to increase hiring in the next quarter. That compares with just 22% a year ago. It is the fourth consecutive quarter of rising hiring expectations.
With developed markets bouncing back and sentiment in the region upbeat, RP International's MD for Asia Pacific Chris Baker says there is an inevitable spike in recruitment activity to compensate for the lack of hiring activity over the last couple of years.
The strong rebound is being exacerbated by the influx of investment from international firms focused on Asia as the key growth market for the foreseeable future. Baker noted that these companies often bring higher salaries and new opportunities that also contribute to movement within the market.
The annual jobs/skills study separately polled both telco HR managers and telecom employees in Asia Pacific. The HR survey targeted only operators (82% were cellcos). Of the broader employee survey, 55% of respondents worked for operators, 18% vendors, 11% SIs and 4% consultancies.
The telco jobs market is indeed buoyant, with 76% of employees surveyed saying they are actively looking for a new position. And with the talent war heating up, candidates have high expectations.
After two years of no, or very low, growth in salaries, Vicky Chai, BT Global Services head of resourcing, is not surprised the number is so high.
Baker agrees. "We're seeing candidates who have chosen to stay with their existing employer to ride out the recession starting to look for new opportunities. This will drive employee turnover and hiring activity."