Hiring in Hong Kong and Singapore: Employment Market Insights and Trends – Q1 2023

Get The Inside Scoop on This Quarter’s Recruitment Trends in Asia

As job trends are rapidly shifting with a faster movement of talent, we’re here to bring you important quarterly updates of the Asia job market.

The results of China’s reopening may not have been as apparent at the start, but the pace has picked up quickly, more so as China has resumed issuing all visas – including business visas – to foreigners. This has seen a large influx of travellers between the Mainland and Hong Kong.

Speaking of Hong Kong, the number of visitors that came in during February 2023 were triple the amount that entered in January 2023. With Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass Scheme that’s been open for application and a hit among graduates from top universities, it is expected that there will be an increase in hiring in Hong Kong.

While Singapore may see slightly slower GDP growth due to inflation and higher GST rates (1% increase in 2023, and another 1% increase in 2024), all is not lost for the job market. In fact, the situation is far from bleak as talent-hungry Singapore has announced several measures to bring in more manpower into the country. The continued drops in unemployment levels, increase in Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions and the revamping of employment passes are all signs that Singapore will likely remain a hot job market in Asia.

As of 1st September 2023, Singapore’s Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) will come into effect. This point-based system will apply to new applications as well as renewals for Employment Pass, allowing Singaporean companies to access a better pool of highly-qualified talent.

READ MORE: Singapore Visa Update: The Introduction of COMPASS

Read on to find out which industries are booming and what roles are in high demand – an overview of this quarter and an outlook of the next.

Highlights from the Employment Market Insights and Trends – Q1 2023

Hong Kong

  • The lifting of Hong Kong’s mask mandate after 495 days – one of the longest in the world – is expected to positively impact businesses in various industries such as sales and marketing. A BBC article quoted that many business owners and residents said that tough mandates like this have damaged Hong Kong’s economy and international standing.
  • What’s the Hong Kong hiring scene like? The approval rate for Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass Scheme has grown to 90%, with around 200 applications being approved in a single day. As of February 2023, Mainland workers from 6 fields can also get multiple-entry work visas for Hong Kong and Macau. Some of these fields include science and research, academia, health, law, and other higher management and professional people.
  • Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) has collaborated with global pharmaceutical and diagnostic giant Roche to create a platform for biomedical innovation startups, effectively turning the Greater Bay Area into a life science hub. This move is expected to attract more MNCs to set up their research & development laboratories in Hong Kong.
  • Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong in January 2023 increased nearly 70 times compared to January 2022 and this has had a profound impact on sales and marketing. During the same period, the sales of watches, clocks, jewellery, and other valuable gifts jumped by 23.1%, while clothing, footwear, and accessories increased by 14.7%.
  • To regain its financial hub status, in March 2023, Hong Kong hosted the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) meeting and the HKMA-BIS Joint Conference the first major international financial events since the city fully reopened its borders.
  • On that note, Hong Kong aims to turn into a green finance hub and has said that it is on the lookout for more talent in the field. Major bank Standard Chartered also said it plans to hire 300 to 500 additional staff in Hong Kong in 2023, amounting to a headcount increase of 9%.


  • Singapore is to remain an Asian life science hub in 2023, especially since various MNCs in the industry have set up major operations there. With that, it plans to bring more skilled workers into life science and healthcare through initiatives such as the ONE Pass that is aimed attracting outstanding talent into Singapore.
  • Besides the ONE Pass which is for those making at least S$30, 000 a month, Singapore will also implement a point-based system known as COMPASS. COMPASS will be used to assess Employment Pass applications, and those looking to get approved must score at least 40 points. Singapore has also said that it will shorten the approval time for Employment Pass applications.
  • While online sales retail saw a drop of 0.5% between January 2023 and December 2022, F&B sales during the Lunar Year celebrations saw a 28.1% year-on-year increase.
  • Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister has said that it is open to digital asset innovation.
  • In early March 2023, Singapore had a massive job fair with over 1,500 vacancies in marketing, F&B, casino operations, and more. To appeal to applications from all walks of life, part-time, full-time and internships positions were all offered.
  • To attract customers from traditional banks and expand their customer base, digital retail banks in Singapore have undertaken several measures such as are offering lower fees, more incentives and waiving minimum account balances.

Get a copy of our Employment Market Insights and Trends – Q1 2023 for Free Now!

Keeping up with frequent shifts in hiring trends and job market updates is not the easiest, but it remains crucial in this candidate-driven market. With our quarterly updates, you can keep tabs to brace yourself for upcoming changes.

Download a free copy of our Employment Market Insights and Trends – Q1 2023 and stay tuned for next quarter’s updates!

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