2023 Procurement Job Market – A Review
In the last year, our procurement practice observed recurring themes in conversations with clients around their challenges with the procurement environment for commodities and raw materials, supplier relationships management, and balancing resources to take greater responsibility in the organization for ESG, and the continuing the drive towards digitality enhanced and optimized procurement processes. These commonalities come as no surprise, as multiple sectors navigate through the same global risks and face similar challenges in supply chain and procurement, impacting how they design their team and the skills needed to embark on the contemporary challenges faced by Procurement organizations and leaders.
February 2023 Breakdown of the Singapore Procurement Job Market
- At present, there are approximately 12,000 professionals in procurement in Singapore.
- Around 20% of these professionals are in Senior positions at an Associate Director or equivalent level and above.
- In the past year, around 1% of the positions hired involved functional leadership in procurement, such as Head of Procurement, VP, or CPO
- Turnover was approximately 18% industry-wide; however, turnover for the PMET level (Professional, Managers, Executive, Technicians) is around 25% of this group taking advantage of a strong job market and higher than regular increments to move into a new procurement role in the last year.
- New graduates and entry-level hiring remain exceptionally low, with around 100 positions hired.
As a result of many businesses assessing their organizational structures, we have seen several companies relocating their senior leadership back to their respective global HQs, or for cost and operations reasons, moving their APAC HQ to another Asian country.
With ESG topics at the forefront, we also observe companies moving procurement talent into sustainability teams, which often fall into a different department. Growing numbers of companies see the potential for taking procurement skillsets in stakeholder engagement, supplier management, risk management, and commerciality and applying them toward ESG functions. Similarly, technology transformation could also bring about talent movement within businesses.
While Singapore is less competitive globally when it comes to annual increments, we do see companies having higher increments, between 3-7%, to cope with the inflationary climate or, in some cases one, off increases to correct salary levels with inflation.
For employees who move to a new company, we see an average of 15-20% increase in remuneration.
The commodities industry, especially in shipping and freight, is experiencing out-of-the-norm bonus pay-outs, while other industries continue to make bonus pay-outs averaging 2-4 months.
Singapore’s procurement employer profiles
- Industries hiring the most significant number of procurement professionals in Singapore are the Public Sector, which continues to grow, and Hi-Tech/STEM and FMCG.
- Industries with the highest level of hiring activity are in the public sector.
- Many of the significant procurement employers of six years ago – multinationals including Shell, ExxonMobil, Barclays, Rio Tinto, BHP, and J&J – have all been replaced in the top 10 with a mix of public, private, and local sector companies.
- Mainstays in the top ten (albeit with declining headcounts) include HP, ST Engineering, Unilever, ALPS Pte Ltd, and Micron Technology.
Challenges in Procurement
Macro concerns/Global risks
The war in Ukraine and high inflation continue to impact global commerce. Other current issues include the follow-on from China’s covid policies which are now cautiously normalizing. These macro concerns require businesses to find ways to mitigate disruption and remain agile and, in some cases, diverse away from a China-centric Supply Chain.
Supplier management and resilience
Procurement leaders are increasingly finding it necessary not only to develop and nurture existing and alternative suppliers but also to closely coordinate their plans and activities with key suppliers to ensure smoother and more reliable deliveries as well as having contingency plans.
Procurement talents increasingly want to be part of organizations that see procurement not just as part of the cost center but as a key contributor that creates value and profit growth. Procurement professionals are increasingly lesser interested in simply saving costs and in how they can bring meaning and purpose to the business overall.
Technology transformation / Data-centric approach
As part of mitigating these macro concerns, we see companies moving away from legacy technologies and seeking instead to re-engineer processes or introduce new systems that can cope with increased output and deliver greater levels of efficiency.
These challenging efforts have led to a gap in change management/project management skills as businesses struggle to modernize both their internal and customer-facing systems. Procurement talent that has already been a part of these transformative changes is highly sought after due to these candidates’ ability to help both during and after such transitions. As a result, businesses have started to bring on board more external talent, those with procurement consultancy or transformation experience.
Companies are also increasingly seeing the importance of a data-centric approach, with some consolidating their data science capabilities into a new department to drive data more holistically and centrally. This means that Data Analysts and/or Data Scientists with market experience can help businesses achieve more insightful decision-making, which in turn contributes to growth.
Tips for hiring companies
- Top talent remains enthusiastic about procurement and driving real value for business continuity and growth. Companies that embrace procurement within their strategic models could find themselves attracting and retaining high-level procurement talent more effectively.
- Having a robust ESG agenda and D&I focus can also help attract new hires who tend to prioritize social responsibility and purpose.
- While long tenures (more than 10 years) with a single employer signify commitment, the reality is that candidates increasingly value exposure and agility over brand loyalty, which could result in shorter tenures (3-5 years). This trend underscores the importance of career lifecycle planning to avoid the loss of knowledge and expertise when employees leave, especially if they walk out the door with niche knowledge unique to the business.
- The candidate market for PMET hiring is very tight, as active and high-quality job seekers generally have many options. Understanding a candidate’s needs, engaging personally in the recruitment process, having an awareness of market salaries, and having a speedy and mutually engaging recruitment process are paramount to hiring successfully.
- The first touchpoint with potential candidates remains crucial. Are they engaged and sold on the position early in the process? Positive candidate engagement right from the beginning leaves a good impression and, in turn, results in a good candidate experience with your brand.
- Candidates are increasingly driven by job content and exposure, as well as role rotations and hybrid working. Reviewing your offerings and job design within the context of these new market conditions is recommended.
Tips for candidates
- Before engaging in a recruitment process, assess and communicate your personal needs. Company offerings vary widely, with many presently in flux. This situation allows you to align your professional goals with your personal needs, avoiding a recruitment process and job mismatch.
- Understand the job market you are in. Is this an employer- or employee-driven market? Adapt your approach and expectations accordingly.
- If you are engaged in a recruitment process in an industry that is new to you, be certain to draw on parallel experiences at all communication points, starting with a tailored CV.
- Salary growth can be healthy at present for changing jobs. Still, the non-financial components of a job offer (such as industry and development opportunities) can pay off long-term and can safeguard your future career. For this reason, we highly recommend taking a strategic approach, particularly in Singapore.
- Given today’s rapidly changing and dynamic environment, ensure that your next move leads toward your mid-to longer-term needs and is aligned with market trends and future industries.
- Put personal development high on your agenda, and consider this variable alongside salary when assessing opportunities, always keeping the long-term in mind.
Our regional team is actively networked in the Asia procurement market, having filled over 100 procurement roles in 2023 with multinational companies across Asia. Our newly set up London office also enables greater connectivity globally.If you would like to discuss what these observations mean for your business or team, please feel free to contact me: Clara Lim – Consultant, Procurement at email@example.com, +65 9424 4704