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More jobs, higher salaries for Asia

The most promising employment landscape is in China, a survey shows. In Japan, optimism is more tempered.

The job outlook for countries across Asia is rosy for the last quarter of this year, according to a new study that reveals over 50 percent of companies expecting to increase employment and salaries.

According to a report from human resources agency Hudson, employment prospects appeared to be the most promising in China, where 68 percent of executives--the highest percentage since 1998--indicated they expect an increase in staffing. This represents a 5 percent increase over the last quarter. In Hong Kong, 52 percent of respondents expected to hire more personnel this quarter.

Hiring in China is a high-stakes matter for tech companies. Google and Microsoft, for instance, are sparring in court over the search company's enlisting of former Redmond executive Kai-Fu Lee. A judge is allowing Lee to begin recruiting staff in China but has otherwise limited the scope of his duties.

Both Japan and Singapore are expected to experience a slight dip in hiring as compared to the previous quarter. Singapore's projected employment will be spurred by growing demand in the consumer sector, according to Hudson.

The outlook for the IT and telecommunications sectors in North Asia is also positive. Seventy percent of respondents in China's IT and telecommunications sectors expressed optimism in head count growth, and 63 percent of their Japanese counterparts also expect to increase hiring.

The survey reflected the input of more than 2,300 decision makers from organizations of various sizes in all major industry sectors.

The main employment opportunities for China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are expected to be in sales, accounting for over 28 percent of projected hiring. Demand is also strong for specialists in fields such as engineering, operations and technical areas, particularly in China, Japan and Singapore.

Hudson's latest report revealed higher demand for IT professionals in Singapore compared to the other three countries. In May, recruitment company DP Search noted that several technology companies in Singapore were hiring. In that report, IT employment was more active in industries such as banking.

Employees are also expecting to see a jump in their salaries over the next 12 months, the Hudson study found. China takes the lead in the upward salary forecast, with 83 percent of respondents anticipating wage increases over the next 12 months. In fact, 54 percent expect increases of at least 5 percent.

This optimism is also apparent in Hong Kong, where 83 percent of executives predict higher salaries over the next year, compared to 62 percent a year ago. In Singapore, 72 percent are expecting to see salary increases, and 25 percent expect wage increases of between 5 percent and 15 percent. Japanese companies are less optimistic, with only 46 percent predicting an increase in salaries.

Staff turnover in the four countries over the past year was significant, with the highest level recorded in Singapore. More than 90 percent of companies in the country reported losing staff over the last 12 months. Japan, bolstered by a strengthening economy, recorded the lowest staff turnover rate, at 74 percent.

Across China, Hong Kong and Singapore, the media/PR/advertising sector faced the same challenge of staff turnover, while in Japan, the banking, IT and telecommunications sectors bore the brunt of employee turnover.

Respondents in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore blamed staff poaching as the primary factor affecting their staff turnover rate, though employees in China are mainly leaving their jobs because of limited career progression.

Companies in the four countries named staff recruitment and retention as the top two human resource challenges for the year ahead. Across the four markets, 33 percent of respondents indicated that hiring was the most pressing issue, while 31 percent chose staff retention as their biggest challenge. The latter was more significant for Hong Kong, Japanese and Singapore markets.

Vivian Yeo of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.