Job prospects diminish across sectors: Survey

 Office workers at Shenton Way on March 2, 2017.
Office workers at Shenton Way on March 2, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Despite a forecast of modest payroll additions across all industry sectors, job prospects continue to diminish, as hiring remains flat, a new survey has found.

A survey of 632 employers by the ManpowerGroup found that only 8 per cent expect to increase headcount, 4 per cent expect a decrease in hiring plans and 60 per cent foresee no change. Once seasonal variations are removed from the data, the Net Employment Outlook stands at plus 4 per cent, and is the least optimistic forecast reported by Singapore's employers since 2009.

"Employers are remaining cautious despite the positive economic forecasts recently provided by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and this abundance of caution is evidently prompting many of the employers we survey to scale back their hiring plans," said Ms Linda Teo, Country Manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore. "However, employers seem willing to keep current payrolls intact until ongoing trade issues and other geopolitical risks are mitigated.

 "The loss of some jobs is inevitable in a maturing and transitioning economy, but there are other jobs being created as well," Ms Teo added. "Workers will have to adapt to the ever-changing world of work, and remain relevant by upskilling and reskilling."

Staffing levels were forecast to grow in all seven industry sectors during the third quarter of 2017, but the overall hiring pace is expected to slow in comparison to the prior quarter and last year at this time, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) released on Tuesday (Jun 13).

Employers from the mining & construction sector reported the strongest hiring intentions with an outlook of +7 per cent. Some hiring opportunities are also forecast for the transportation & utilities sector and the services sector, with outlooks of +6 per cent and +5 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, employers in two sectors report the most cautious outlooks of +2 per cent were the manufacturing sector and the public administration & education sector.

 When compared with this time one year ago, hiring intentions decline in six of the seven industry sectors.

Finance, insurance & real estate sector employers report the most significant decrease of 15 percentage points, while the Outlook for the public administration & education sector declines by 12 percentage points. The transportation & utilities sector outlook nosedives by 7 percentage points, while decreases of 6 percentage points are reported for both the manufacturing sector and the services sector. Meanwhile, an improvement of 2 percentage points is reported by wholesale & retail trade sector employers.

Across the Asia Pacific, payrolls were expected to grow by varying degrees , with an improvement of net employment outlook in only two countries and territories when compared to the prior quarter, decline in three and are unchanged in three.

In a year-over-year comparison the hiring pace is expected to improve in five countries and territories, decline in two and remain unchanged in one. Employers in Japan and Taiwan report the most optimistic forecasts, both regionally and globally. The region's weakest forecasts are reported by employers in China and Singapore.