Asian job hunters favour temp contracts over professional positions
The lure is easier money and the opportunity to work for big, multinational companies
Of the 450 executives surveyed by Hudson in its report for the fourth quarter of 2011, 42 per cent are reported to be hiring new staff compared to 56 per cent three months ago. This is one of the sharpest drops since Hudson began reporting on hiring trends in 2003.
Mr. Cary Lam quit his permanent job in a Hong Kong IT company after eight years for a better opportunity: a temporary one-year contract offer.
Across Asia, from Beijing to Singapore, the trend of professionals switching from permanent jobs to temporary contracts appears be on the rise.
"In my mind, there's not much of a difference between permanent and contract jobs. It's not about security, it's about the overhead in changing jobs," said the 37-year-old Lam. He moved to the new position of HSBC project manager with the bonus of more exhilarating work.
Leaving behind stable and secured "iron rice bowls", temporary jobs in East Asian cities are starting to attract more candidates in project-based offers that are sweetened by the esteem of working for big multinational names.
Short-term labour gives both employers and workers in the region a competitive edge in the global professional job scene.
According to Korea Labor Institute statistics as of Aug 2010, the amount of non-regular workers in South Korea has nearly doubled since 2002, accounting for 33.4 per cent of the country's 17.05 million workers, up from 27.4 per cent.
Statistics in Asia show that both employers and professionals have turned more to contracting since the global financial crisis erupted in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.
In fact, recruitment firm Robert Walters in Hong Kong highlights a 15 per cent uptake in current contract employment against permanent employment. This is up from zero in 2008.
"Prior to the financial crisis, there was almost no contract market in Hong Kong at the professional level," said Sommer Owens, Hong Kong's manager for contracts at Robert Walters, which brought its contracting desk to Hong Kong in 2009.
Contract work in project-based jobs now spans the banking, financial services, construction, consulting and, in particular, IT industries.
Said Mr. Andrew Banks, founder and chairman of HR and recruitment firm Talent2: “We for example had 30 people in Macau recruiting 4,500 people for a casino in just nine months following the planning phase. Once the work was done, the client was able to take over the process themselves."