Q3 hiring prospects in Singapore to remain stable: Survey

Fifteen per cent of employers intend to increase their staffing levels, while 3 per cent anticipate a decrease, and 77 per cent forecast no change to their payrolls. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Singaporean employers remain optimistic in their hiring plans for the third quarter of this year, new research shows.

Fifteen per cent of employers intend to increase their staffing levels, while 3 per cent anticipate a decrease, and 77 per cent forecast no change to their payrolls, according to the latest survey released by recruitment company ManpowerGroup Employment on Tuesday (June 11). The remaining 5 per cent did not know.

The resulting net employment outlook for the upcoming quarter is forecast to remain relatively stable at +12 per cent, improving by one percentage point from the previous quarter, but it remains unchanged in comparison from the same period last year.

Employers in all seven industry sectors expect to add to payrolls in the third quarter, with those in the public administration and education sector reporting the strongest hiring outlook of +22 per cent, a jump of 5 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Positive workforce gains are anticipated in the services sector where the outlook is +18 per cent - the biggest jump of the quarter, up by 8 percentage points on Q3 2018.

"The food and beverage industry is always looking for manpower," said Mr Mustaffa Kamal, 34, co-founder of The Black Hole Group, a food and beverage management company.

"In the future, the need for manpower in this industry might remain constant or drop due to technology."

Outlooks of +10 per cent and +9 per cent are reported in the transportation and utilities sector and the mining and construction sector, respectively.

Elsewhere, employers report moderate hiring plans, with outlooks standing at +8 per cent in both the manufacturing sector and the wholesale and retail trade sector.

"With news of a slowdown in the economy, there would be potential for business owners to look out for lower cost, high value employees; in that a case, a musical chair recruitment outcome would occur," said Jonathan Cheah, executive director of manufacturing company Faesol.

In the finance, insurance and real estate sector, hiring intention is the weakest at +7 per cent, a decline of 18 percentage points on the corresponding quarter.

Job gains are forecast for all four organisation size categories during the next three months.

Large employers report dynamic hiring plans with a booming outlook of +59 per cent, while the most cautious outlook of +4 per cent is reported by micro firms.

On a regional scale, employers in all eight Asia Pacific countries and territories surveyed expect to grow payrolls in the three months to September 2019, with employers in Japan (+25 per cent) and Taiwan (+22 per cent) anticipating the strongest hiring activity, while the weakest outlooks are reported in China (+8 per cent), New Zealand (+12 per cent) and Singapore (+12 per cent).

"The US-China trade war affects the global economic trade volume, which may affect businesses in Singapore," said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

"When employers sense that global trade volume is falling, they may be more selective about employment."

Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, said: "Employers in Singapore remain cautiously optimistic about their hiring plans in the midst of continued economic headwinds.

"Companies are expected to continue hiring to fill gaps in their workforce, albeit at a slower pace as many employers anticipate the impact of the ongoing trade war between China and the US to spill over into the local economy."

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