There is a growing trend world wide including Singapore for employers preferring contract staffing service, temporary or contingent hires due to restrictions in hiring permanent headcount brought about by global economic uncertainties including war and COVID 19 pandemic etc. This trend is expected to continue in the years ahead.
The trend towards contingent and contract staffing has been further accelerated in the past few years since the beginning of the pandemic where many employees have been forced to work remotely or work from home.
In a mature employment market like Singapore, we can expect to see a rising number of professional managers and senior candidates coming onto the market as a result of budget concerns, and employers capitalising on the abundant pool of less experienced and younger talent to take on new emerging roles such as in digital and technology sectors. The changing nature of emerging skills required from employees in the light of rapid digitalisation and technological change is another trend that are pushing many employers towards hiring less experienced but trainable contract staff candidates to replace more experienced hires.
The engineering sector is one sector where there is strong demand for contract staffing service due increase construction activities and public sector infrastructure projects such as the expansion of the MRT network. There would be demand for engineers and project managers, particularly those with experience in tunnelling, high rise constructions, complex engineering works etc.
Nowadays, temporary/contract work are no longer limited to entry-level office support or administrative jobs. Professionals at all levels and across various sectors are now being employed on a temporary, project or contract basis to help alleviate skills and meet manpower shortages.
More companies are actively hiring additional contingent and contract staff to quickly start a new project or meet project deadlines as COVID 19 restrictions have caused many projects to be delayed over the past year. At the same time, more jobseekers are considering contract work to reap the benefits that non-permanent employment can offer.
Another noticeable trend is that many of the contract staffing arrangement are also being done via an outsourced contract staffing service arrangement with third party contractors or employment agencies. These agencies are also known as professional employer organization (PEO) and the candidates are placed with these agencies as Employer on Record (EOR).
Job seekers should view contract staffing work as positively due to the following:
Skills Building: Temporary/contract staff assignments allow professionals to expand, refine and develop their expertise, and expose them to new work challenges. Contract work even though hired through agencies acting as professional employer organization provide opportunities to build new skills and experience. A varied and flexible skill set enhances employability in the eye of future employers or when an opportunity to be converted to permanent role arises.
Work-life Balance: By choosing to work as a contractor, candidates can handpick and choose assignments that suit their schedule, enabling them more control and flexibility over their working life. By not being part of the “permanent” team, there is less politicking allowing the contractor to focus on delivering quality work without disruption and on time.
Professional Network Building: With every temporary assignment, contractors can further develop their professional network and connections as they meet new peers in their field. This can be invaluable when seeking temporary or permanent job opportunities in the future.
For employers, the benefits of hiring contract staff are:
Filling Skills Gaps: To address increasing skills shortages, contractors hired through Employer of Record service 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.
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.
Talent On Trial: Many businesses use professional employer organization to as employer of record to hire staff as a “trial” to assess their capability and cultural compatibility with the organisation. This “trial” method reduces the risk associated with long-term commitment to a permanent hire.
Both businesses, freelancers and contract workers in Singapore should also be mindful of the guidelines for freelancers and contract staff which are still evolving to manage and protect the interests of all parties involved.