Singapore jobs outlook gloomy as only 15% of employers look at hiring in Q1 2017

'The growing mismatch between jobs and skills looms ahead and will worsen'

Singapore jobs outlook gloomy as only 15% of employers look at hire in Q1 2017
Public servants and contractors sit at their desks at a public housing administration center in Singapore June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The employment outlook in Singapore, which is at the lowest point since the 2009 recession, is not getting any better, the latest report has said. Hiring sentiments will remain cautious in the next three months, the ManpowerGroup said in its latest Employment Outlook report.

The US-based employment firm said only 15 percent of employers in Singapore plan to increase headcount in the first three months of 2017. While 7 percent would want to cut jobs, 71 percent expect no change in recruitment early in 2017.

"With global socio-economic issues such as the uncertainty over 'Brexit', the recent US elections and the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) hanging in the balance, employers are closely observing market conditions and are expected to adjust their workforce levels when there is more visibility," the report said, according to the Business Times.

The report was based on a survey conducted among 620 employers. The report added that challenging employment outlook persists into the first quarter of 2017 as Singapore employers continue to remain cautiously optimistic about their hiring plans in the year. It says there is a widening rift between jobs and skill in Singapore, something that affects the job scene in the long run.

"Even while hiring prospects remain relatively stable both quarter on quarter and year over year, the growing mismatch between jobs and skills looms ahead and will worsen if not addressed by workers and employers," ManpowerGroup country manager Linda Teo said.

Last month, a report by Swiss business school IMD said Singapore has slipped in terms of its ability to attract and retain global top talent. Singapore tumbled out of a top ten talent rankings list prepared by IMD.

According to the IMD World Talent Report 2016 , among Asian countries, only Hong Kong remains in the top ten of the list which considers' an economy's robustness, business environment and the overall ability to attract talent. Other top Asian economies such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, China and India slipped in the 2016 talent league table.

The Ministry of Manpower said in October Singapore's overall employment rate shrank in the third quarter, marking only the second contraction in employment rates since the 2008-09 recession. The department's preliminary data showed 4,100 workers were laid off in the third quarter of 2016, which was marginally down from the 4,800 in the previous quarter.

The report says there was a broad-based slowdown in employment generation. New jobs in the services sector slowed to 5,700 from 7,600 in the previous quarter. Employment in manufacturing continued to decline by 3,700 for the eighth consecutive quarter, compared to a decline of 3,400 in the previous quarter.