Contractors' Questions: Which IT skills are hot for Singapore 2010?

Contractor's Question: If the downturn in the UK IT jobs market lasts much longer, I'm tempted to move to Singapore to be with my partner. But what opportunities will Singapore provide IT contractors in 2010? And in terms of pay rates or demand for skills both peaking, when's the best time to snap up an IT contract in Singapore?

Expert's Answer: Singapore has a high demand of contractors from more mature contracting markets like UK, US and Australia. Banks across Singapore have expansion and growth plans for 2010 and a few have initiated the hiring process as early as November 2009. The demand in the New Year usually picks up after Chinese New Year break (late February) after which project approvals and guidelines for the year take shape and hiring begins. The approvals come in for contract positions before permanent positions. Contracting again picks up late Q3 – September/ October as the permanent hiring begins to slow down in Q4 and managers resort to contract hiring again.

The demand for IT contractors in 2010 would potentially come from aggressive projects as well as from team expansions. Many banks still see contracting as a speedy way of hiring for an otherwise permanent position to bypass headcount approval process. Others have projects which require high end skill sets which are not available in Singapore, so you may be well-placed depending on your specialism.

The skill sets in demand are front office experience in application support and development across C++ and Java and .Net technologies, as well front office infrastructure support roles in Market Data, Trade Floor Support, Low Latency messaging, Infrastructure Project Management , and other infrastructure support roles. Facing off to traders and business is in demand across development and infrastructure, particularly if contractors have strong knowledge of businesses across product categories like Futures, Structured products, FX, MM, derivatives, rates and Repo.

The pay rates in Singapore market are not comparable in currency conversion terms with UK, US and Australia as the taxes are lower. Most of the banks offer a premium in the range of 15% to 25% on basic salaries for contracting rates.

The expert was Adam Bowden, a manager at the Singapore contracting division of Robert Walters.