Singapore IT sector predicts greater use of freelancers than global average.

Innovation and flexibility crucial.

Robert Half has carried out global research to find that business leaders expect to achieve a 66:34 split between permanent and temporary workers by 2023, highlighting how the professional gig economy is transforming traditional staffing and recruitment strategies.

Singapore’s IT sector is currently following a slightly more progressive trend. While only 8.4 per cent of Singapore’s employed residents are classified as independent contractors according to the Ministry of Manpower, future forecasts by the city-state’s IT leaders predict a 61:39 split between permanent and temporary employees by 2023 – a strong indication of the future direction of Singaporean workplace dynamics.

Robert Half’s research polled over 3,800 business leaders in 12 countries worldwide, and the research found that 97 per cent of business leaders identified benefits of adopting a more flexible approach to recruitment in the years to come, including more control over staffing and recruitment costs (36 per cent), support for long-term absences, such as parental leave, secondments or sick leave (34 per cent), and better management of workload fluctuations (32 per cent).

This compares to 31 per cent who respectively referred to access to new ideas/initiatives to support innovation and providing a stop-gap when permanent hiring takes too long. Furthermore, 30 per cent respectively said flexible recruitment would provide access to technical/niche skillsets and ensure knowledge transfer to existing employees.

The increasing adoption by employers of the gig economy and a flexible workforce is being driven by several factors, mainly by new technologies that allow for greater workplace flexibility such as collaboration tools which offer businesses a more flexible approach to how they manage key project initiatives and workload fluctuations. Other contributing factors include the difficulty of acquiring specific skills on a permanent basis owing to the worldwide war for talent, and the evolving complexity of traditional job roles.

“While the temporary workforce will be instrumental to helping businesses become more responsive in a competitive tech-driven environment, the increased flexibility contract workers offer will also help businesses find the right balance of skills as traditional job roles evolve,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore. “Growth and scale will also be easier to achieve and manage for those businesses working with contractors. Companies can then benefit from a flexible recruitment strategy by getting fast access to specialised skills, becoming more agile and being equipped for managing workload fluctuations and new projects.”

The rise of web-based platforms, such as Freelancer and Airtasker, in sourcing temporary resources in the professional gig economy has made it easier to find the talent that businesses need with 94 per cent of global business leaders currently sourcing contract workers from online job platforms. However, only one in three (36 per cent) Singaporean CIOs currently source contract workers via online job platforms – indicating a more cautious approach by the city-state’s IT leaders when it comes to engaging contract workers through digital marketplaces.

Yet many of global businesses polled cited several perceived problems with these new online platforms. The most common concerns include no guarantee of the standard of work (41 per cent), a lack of alignment/understanding of the company (38 per cent), concern on their eligibility to work (37 per cent), unclear expectations of the service (28 per cent) and the perception that contract workers are only freelancing because of their inability to find a permanent job (28 per cent).

“It’s important for hiring managers to exercise caution and research any recruitment partner carefully to ensure candidates are thoroughly evaluated for their skill and experience level, as well as whether they will be a good cultural fit. And while employers enjoy more avenues of recruitment than ever before through online job platforms, human expertise will continue to play a vital role when it comes to conducting a rigorous recruitment process,” Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard concluded.

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