More job vacancies for PMETs last year; employers increasingly looking beyond academic results: MOM

The Manpower Ministry defines job vacancies as unfilled positions for which companies are actively recruiting outside their organisations. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There were more jobs up for grabs last year after good economic growth in the first half of the year.

An annual survey conducted by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) also showed employers are increasingly looking beyond academic qualifications to consider a wider pool of candidates with the relevant skills or working experience.

The survey of both private sector firms and public sector agencies found 63,300 job vacancies as of September last year, up from 53,100 a year earlier.

About four in 10 of the vacancies were for new positions created as a result of business formation and expansion, said MOM in its survey report released on Tuesday (March 19). These vacancies were mostly from community, social and personal services such as education and healthcare; manufacturing, such as of electronics, transport equipment; and information and communications.

MOM defines job vacancies as unfilled positions for which companies are actively recruiting outside their organisations. A total of 15,900 establishments employing 2,110,400 people responded to the survey.

More of the available jobs were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). Their share of job vacancies rose to 53 per cent last year from 49 per cent in 2017 and 48 per cent in 2016. The share of clerical, sales and service job vacancies fell further to 23 per cent, while that for cleaners, labourers and production and transport operators remained at 24 per cent.

The 2018 survey also found that the share of PMET vacancies where academic qualifications was not a main consideration for hiring rose to 52 per cent last year from 42 per cent in 2017, which was the first year the ministry tracked this metric.

Instead, for jobs such as software, web and multimedia developers, systems analysts and commercial and marketing sales executives, employers said they were looking for relevant skills and work experience.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said this is an encouraging sign.

"(I) hope that more firms will keep their doors open to a wider field of potential candidates that may have the skills needed for their job roles," he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

As companies integrate technology into their work processes, infocomms and technology workers continued to be in hot demand among roles for PMETs, though it was teaching and training professionals who topped the list of recruits in demand.

Software, web and multimedia developers and systems analysts accounted for the second and third most PMET vacancies as of September last year. Both saw at least a three-fold rise in their share of total job vacancies, over the last five years.

Other fast-growing roles include chief information officers, database designers and administrators, network and communications managers and information technology security specialists.

The ministry said that for ICT roles, employers typically wanted to hire people with the skills to understand, monitor and improve technical systems, and who had knowledge in programming languages and specialised software to manage projects and perform enterprise resource planning.

Finance, marketing and business development PMETs were also in demand, and there was emerging demand for analytical positions in regulatory and risk assessment and market research.

For these positions, employers were keen on candidates with technical knowledge in customer relationship management and financial and business analysis software, as well as softer skills like being able to perceive and handle clients' requirements.

Meanwhile, among non-PMET roles, cleaners, shop sales assistants and security guards were the top three recruits in demand last year. The ministry noted that the number of vacancies for these roles has declined, especially for shop sales assistants, whose share of total job vacancies nearly halved over the last five years.

On the other hand, there was an increase in vacancies for healthcare assistants like therapy aides over the last five years, amid rising demand for healthcare.

Non-PMET jobs remained harder to fill with locals than PMET openings, with common gripes being unattractive pay, physically strenuous work, and having to work shifts or on weekends and public holidays.

"For jobs that are less attractive to local job seekers, employers can take advantage of technology to improve their job quality," said MOM.

For workers looking to enter the labour market or switch careers, common jobs which do not require prior sector or job specific working experience included teaching and training professionals, nurses and receptionists and customer service officers, said MOM.

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