1 in 5 employers to ramp up hiring in 2021: Survey

Quarterly poll says net employment outlook is the strongest recorded for S'pore in 6 years

Job seekers can look forward to better hiring prospects in the new year, with a survey today revealing that one in five Singapore employers expects to increase recruitment.

Around 20 per cent are likely to hire more staff in the first three months of next year than in the current quarter, said the employment outlook survey released by recruitment agency ManpowerGroup.

Meanwhile, 66 per cent said they anticipate no change to their headcounts, while 4 per cent said they expect a decrease in total employment.

Overall, the net employment outlook is at 15 per cent - a 17 percentage point rise from the last quarter and the strongest outlook recorded for Singapore in six years by the quarterly survey.

Compared with the six other Asia-Pacific countries and territories where the same survey was conducted, Singapore recorded the second-strongest net employment outlook after Taiwan (plus 23 per cent).

Hong Kong had the poorest outlook (minus 2 per cent), while China, Japan and India recorded positive net employment outlooks between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

The net employment outlook is calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers who expect to see a decrease in employment from the percentage of employers who anticipate an increase in total employment.

Singapore's strong employment outlook recovery reflects employers' growing confidence now that the outbreak is under control here, said ManpowerGroup Singapore country manager Linda Teo.

"However, the return to pre-pandemic hiring levels will be gradual as employers continue to keep their plans fluid in anticipation of new developments to the Covid-19 crisis. At the same time, employers are recalibrating their workforce strategy in view of tightening restrictions on work pass applications as well as the increased digitalisation of work."

Hiring outlook was positive in all seven sectors surveyed, but strongest in mining and construction, the service sector, as well as transportation and utilities.

Ms Teo said this reflects the changes in consumer behaviour as a result of Covid-19, where more people are shopping online and companies have expanded to e-commerce. "To meet these increased demands, logistics companies are ramping up their hiring to fill business, commercial, technology and operational roles."

The survey also asked employers when they expect hiring activity to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels, with 39 per cent saying they are uncertain. Nineteen per cent believe it will never recover, while 17 per cent estimated it would take more than a year for hiring activity to return to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Twelve per cent expect it to happen within the next three months, while 9 per cent said it would take four to nine months. Only 4 per cent believed it would recover within 10 to 12 months.

Correction note: This story has been updated for clarity. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2020, with the headline '1 in 5 employers to ramp up hiring in 2021: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe