SINGAPORE - The number of job vacancies declined for the third year in a row last year, but a larger share of openings were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), reflecting the overall shift towards higher value-added jobs.
Employers were able to find workers more quickly, and the proportion of vacancies unfilled for at least six months fell to 33 per cent, down from 36 per cent in 2016.
In all, there were 53,100 jobs up for grabs as of end-September last year, according to the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) job vacancies report released on Wednesday (Feb 7). This figure is down from 53,800 the year before and a peak of 67,400 in 2014.
Job vacancies refer to openings for which employers are actively recruiting workers from outside their businesses.
The share of vacancies for PMETs, who make up about 56 per cent of the resident workforce, rose last year.
Of all job openings, 49 per cent were for this group, up from 48 per cent the year before. More of these jobs were also in the information technology and engineering fields.
Software, Web and multimedia developers (1,290); teaching and training professionals (1,140); commercial and marketing sales executives (870); and management executives (830) were the PMET occupations with the most openings available.
Employers cited the lack of necessary work experience as the top challenge in hiring local PMETs for hard-to-fill vacancies.
As for non-PMETs, the roles with the most vacancies were security guards (1,540); receptionists, customer service and information clerks (1,430); and shop sales assistants (1,370).
Unattractive pay, having to work on weekends and public holidays, and having to do shift work were among the main reasons people were not attracted to non-PMET jobs that could not be filled for six months or more, said MOM.
Amid the push to encourage employers to hire workers based on skills, this year's report also included a new metric which looks at whether academic qualifications were the main consideration in hiring.
MOM noted that for four in 10 PMET vacancies, academic qualifications were not the main consideration in hiring.
These included positions for civil engineers and software, Web and multimedia developers, though they typically required work experience.
For non-PMET vacancies, nearly all, or nine in 10, were not dependent on academic qualifications.
MOM advised employers who find it hard to fill non-PMET jobs to do more to redesign and improve the quality of these jobs, as well as to facilitate job matching.
To overcome skills mismatches, particularly for PMET jobs, employers should widen their pool of prospective candidates and tap government support to meet their hiring needs, it said.
Mismatches will be a growing challenge, as "the nature of jobs continues to evolve with technology and industry transformation", it added.
Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that there were more vacancies for PMETs last year. While the share of openings for PMETs was larger, the actual number was actually slightly lower than in the year before as the overall number of vacancies went down. We are sorry for the error.