Singapore firms to focus on local hires in 2014

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Against a backdrop of rising tensions over the number of foreign workers in Singapore, a recruitment survey published on Tuesday has revealed domestic firms will focus on hiring locals this year.

According to the Global Salary Survey by recruitment consultancy firm Robert Walters, firms across various industries plan to increase training and development opportunities and chart clearer career paths for employees in a bid to maintain a local core of professionals.

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The survey results come amid growing public resistance against the influx of foreign workers in recent years. In February of last year, over 1,000 Singaporeans attended a protest against the rise in foreign workers, and the government has responded by introducing curbs on overseas hiring.

Other findings in the survey showed that Singaporeans are set to enjoy higher salaries this year, as the launch of a government initiative - the Fair Consideration Framework - in August is set to boost salaries for both permanent and contract workers, the firm said.

The Fair Consideration Framework willrequire companies to advertise positions to Singaporeansbefore applying for employment passes for foreign professionals.

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Robert Walters also found that candidates who switched jobs in 2013 commanded an average 15 to 20 percent salary increase, concluding that this trend is likely to continue this year.

"With the increasing competition for top Singapore talent, firms are recognizing the importance of developing existing employees with transferable skill sets," said Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters.

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"This allows for more promotion opportunities from within and rewards employees with an expanded scope of responsibilities," he added.

Furthermore, accounting and finance professionals with niche skills, such as treasury, taxation and internal audit, are at an advantage, with the ability to command premium salary increments.

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IT professionals are also expected to be in high demand in addition to legal and compliance professionals, as Singapore increasingly regulates its banking industry.

Finally, HR professionals will see a rise in contract hiring, as employers prefer a flexible workforce, in particular for payroll staff and junior HR executives.

Singapore enjoys one of the world's lowest unemployment rates at 1.8 percent.

By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie