The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) published the first of its planned series of weekly jobs situation reports yesterday, in conjunction with the Ministry of Trade and Industry's (MTI) second-quarter gross domestic product statistics.
The report contains information on the number of jobs, traineeships and attachments available, and how many of them have been filled.
The ministry said: "To help job seekers better access these opportunities, MOM will be providing weekly updates on the jobs situation in Singapore to highlight the opportunities available for job seekers and how they can access these opportunities."
The move to publish the weekly update is unprecedented. Even though most of the macro-level data is not new, the frequency at which the ministry now chooses to publish the data is significant.
Indeed, MOM said that it made the latest move "so that members of the public can have access to important information on a regular and timely basis".
It shows that the ministry is responding swiftly to the labour market that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
While MOM is targeting the information at job seekers, companies will find the weekly updates useful too. Some employers can use the information to get an up-to-date pulse of the labour market to plan their manpower resources and future projects.
While MTI's economic data yesterday showed an overall contraction of the economy, there were some sectors that bucked the trend. They included the electronics, precision engineering and biomedical manufacturing clusters in the manufacturing sector, as well as the finance and insurance, and information and communications sectors.
It goes to reason that as these sectors expand, the job vacancies will follow.
Indeed, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said yesterday that there are some 1,000 vacancies in the manufacturing sector to be filled. This is even as the sector shrank by 0.7 per cent year on year in the second quarter this year.
However, this information was disclosed at a press briefing and not found in the jobs report.
The weekly report is a work in progress and the ministry will most definitely fine-tune and improve the process.
There are at least two ways that the reports can be expanded to make them more meaningful to job seekers.
One, there should be more detailed information like sectors and clusters that are hiring.
The report now groups the jobs according to short-term ones - of up to 12 months - and long-term ones. This is less useful because job seekers look for jobs in sectors or areas that match their skills, experience and interests, and not solely based on whether they are short-or long-term commitments.
Two, besides wanting to know where the jobs are, job seekers naturally need details like the actual jobs being offered, the salary range, what qualifications are required and, most importantly, how to apply for them.
While one can argue that the various job banks already provide such information, the weekly jobs situation report can still serve as a signpost to point job seekers to these vacancies, or at least tell them where to start looking.
The latest move by MOM is a positive step towards improving job market transparency. The weekly updates can address the information gap in the job search, which is a common bugbear among job seekers.
And if the reports can be expanded to include more details to aid job seekers in their job hunt, this will go some distance in helping displaced workers get back on their feet amid the pandemic and prepare them for the changed post-pandemic labour market.