Overall Positive Growth for Singaporean Employment Market
The Singaporean labour market continued to improve in the third quarter of 2017 with the drop in total employment coming in lower than that in the two previous quarters. Those affected were mostly foreign workers and as a result, growth in local employment is likely to remain positive. There was an improvement in the citizen unemployment rate, while the resident unemployment rate remained unchanged. According to the Ministry of Manpower, retrenchments declined, while the resident re-entry rate rose.
“For the whole of 2017, growth in total employment is likely to be negative, but local employment growth is likely to exceed that of 2016,” it said, adding that seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons also increased. As for long-term unemployment rates, it edged up slightly, while the resident unemployment rate remained unchanged. For citizens, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly from 3.3% in June 2017 to 3.2% in September 2017. The resident long-term unemployment rate which declined in the previous quarter, edged up from 0.7% in June 2017 to 0.8% in September 2017, to the same level as a year ago. In the second quarter of 2017, retrenchments declined from 3,640 to 3,4003 in 3Q 2017, which was also lower than a year ago (4,220). The total number of retrenchments in the first nine months of 2017 (11,040) remained lower than the same period last year (13,730). Overall, since the beginning of the year, the decline in total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW)) has been easing. The decline was due mainly to the decrease in Work Permit Holders in Marine and Construction. Employment growth occurred mainly in sectors such as Community, Social & Personal Services, Accommodation, Financial Services and Professional Services. The six-month re-entry rate into employment of retrenched residents rose slightly to 66% in 3Q 2017, the highest level since 4Q 2015 (70%). In particular, younger workers below 30 (82%) and Production & Transport Operations, Cleaners & Labourers (75%) had the highest rates of re-entry. The seasonally-adjusted job vacancies to unemployed ratio improved to 0.87, continued an uptrend since December 2016 (0.77).
Local Employment is Expected to Continue to Grow Next Year
In conclusion, for the whole of 2017, local employment is likely to grow more than the 11,200 recorded in 2016, even as total employment could contract due to declines in Marine and Construction. “In line with the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s 2018 GDP growth forecast of 1.5% to 3.5%, with growth likely to come in at around the middle of the forecast range, local employment is expected to continue to grow next year but remain uneven across sectors,” said the ministry. Even as the pace of economic growth is expected to remain firm, job-skills mismatch will continue to be a growing challenge due to on-going economic restructuring and shifts in composition of the resident labour force. Job seekers and at-risk workers can continue to look forward to support from MOM, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and tripartite partners through initiatives under SkillsFuture and Adapt & Grow (A&G). Companies are urged to make use of available government support, such as the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme, to transform to be more manpower-lean and have better quality jobs. Companies can also tap on SkillsFuture and A&G programmes to meet their hiring needs or prepare at-risk workers to take on new functions or responsibilities.