SINGAPORE - Border restrictions and manpower demand in growth sectors have pushed job vacancies in Singapore to an all-time high of 92,100 in June, according to the Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday (Sept 15).
There were 163 job openings for every 100 unemployed persons in June. The ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons increased to above one for the first time since March 2019. These are seasonally adjusted figures.
“The ongoing border restrictions have affected the availability of manpower in construction and manufacturing,” said the MOM.
“There was also sustained demand in growth sectors like financial and insurance services, professional services, and information and communications.”
Meanwhile, resident unemployment continued to ease in the first half of this year, MOM's second-quarter labour market report showed.
Overall, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were at 2.7 per cent in June this year, continuing a downtrend.
The seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate also dipped to 0.9 per cent in June, from highs of 1.1 per cent recorded in both December last year and March this year.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said in a Facebook post on Wednesday: “The improvement in the labour market is a reflection of both businesses and workers adapting to the new environment, and seizing new opportunities.”
The Government will work with its tripartite partners to continue to support businesses and workers, he added.
The MOM noted that the labour market performance remains uneven across sectors, with sectors such as food and beverage (F&B) services seeing a temporary easing of demand, leading to an overall rise in the number of employees who were placed on short work weeks or temporary layoffs.
Such work arrangements helped to keep retrenchments “relatively low” in the first half of this year at about 4,620, the ministry said.
On a quarterly basis, the number of retrenchments rose slightly from 2,270 in the first quarter this year to 2,340, although Permanent Secretary for Manpower Aubeck Kam told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that the figures still remain within the pre-pandemic quarterly range.
OCBC Bank’s head of treasury research and strategy, Ms Selena Ling, said that retrenchments edging up amid growing job vacancies is likely due to job and sectoral mismatches.
“But I’ve also heard of some people quitting to take a break from the job market due to burnout from the Covid period or prioritising what’s important in life due to the pandemic,” she said.
Human resource advisory firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting’s managing director, Dr David Leong, also said it is “not a case of simple substitution”.
“The unemployed persons cannot seamlessly adapt and assimilate into the available job opening... This metric does not take into consideration time spent on training, adaptation into role and general resistance of workers crossing into (an) unfamiliar industry and sector,” he said.
There were notable increases in job vacancies in construction and manufacturing, which have high vacancy rates for production and transport operators, cleaners and labourers, according to MOM data.
In industries such as professional services, there is a high vacancy rate for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.
The MOM said that consumer-facing sectors, including F&B as well as retail trade, should start to recover as domestic restrictions are eased over the course of the year, although they are not expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels due to the subdued tourism outlook.
Tourism- and aviation-related sectors are also recovering at a slower rate.
These sectors are “projected to see a slow recovery as travel restrictions globally are likely to be lifted cautiously and global travel demand may also remain sluggish amidst the spread of more contagious strains of the virus”, said the MOM.
Activity in these sectors is expected to remain significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels even by the end of the year, it added.