More job vacancies last year, with more PMET positions

Firms increasingly looking beyond grades; teachers and trainers top recruits in demand

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

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

The survey of 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, MOM said in its survey report released yesterday. These vacancies were mostly in community, social and personal services; manufacturing; and information and communications.

The ministry defines job vacancies as unfilled positions for which companies are actively recruiting outside their organisations.

More of the available jobs were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), whose share of 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 last year to 23 per cent, while that for cleaners, labourers and production and transport operators stayed at 24 per cent.

Academic qualifications were not the main consideration for hiring for 52 per cent of PMET vacancies last year. This is up from 42 per cent in 2017, the first year that the ministry tracked this metric.

As companies integrate technology into their work processes, infocomm technology (ICT) workers continued to be in hot demand among roles for PMETs.

However, it was teaching and training professionals who topped the list of recruits in demand.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said this is likely because the number of educators cannot keep up with the growing number of courses.

"Also, some training requires quite unique knowledge, such as in artificial intelligence, and there may not be enough talent there yet qualified to train others," he said.

Software, Web and multimedia developers and systems analysts accounted for the second-and third-most PMET openings as of last September. Both saw at least a threefold rise in their share of total job vacancies over the past five years. Other fast-growing roles included chief information officers, database designers and administrators, 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 needed, and there was emerging demand for analytical positions in regulatory and risk assessment and market research. For these roles, 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, though the ministry noted that the number of vacancies for these roles had declined.

On the other hand, there was an increase in vacancies for healthcare assistants such as therapy aides over the past five years.

Non-PMET jobs were harder to fill with locals than PMET openings, with common gripes being unattractive pay, physically strenuous work and weekend work.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline More job vacancies last year, with more PMET positions. Subscribe