S'pore aiming to create 25,000 to 40,000 jobs yearly

Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD).
Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD). PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore aims to create about 25,000 to 40,000 jobs annually for the next three to five years, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday.

This is lower than in the heyday of growth, when about 100,000 to 120,000 jobs were created yearly.

Mr Lim noted that in the past two years, there was a significant decline in job creation amid the ongoing economic restructuring to focus more on higher-skilled jobs.

He therefore expects the new base to have a bigger proportion of better-quality jobs.

Official figures support the optimism he expressed to reporters at a job fair, where 2,300 jobs were up for grabs.

The 2016 job vacancies report that his ministry released a day earlier showed that a growing proportion of job openings for professional, manager, executive and technician (PMET) positions remain unfilled.

Of the 53,800 vacancies last year, 48 per cent were PMET positions, compared with 39 per cent three years earlier, said the report.

This rise, however, comes with a higher risk of mismatch between job seekers and job openings, Mr Lim said.

Job seekers may not know where to look, what jobs are available, or may not have the necessary skills or experience for the available jobs.

"If we want to succeed in keeping the unemployment rate in check, we need to do more," said Mr Lim, noting that unemployment rose to 3 per cent last year after staying at around 2.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent for three years.

But he noted that Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute helped to successfully match about 20,000 people to jobs last year.

"We want to build on this momentum," he said, as he outlined three key goals for his ministry this year.

One is to enhance the professional conversion programmes to help mid-level workers take on new careers in a different industry. Now, the focus is on entry-level professionals.

However, Mr David Leong of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting said the effect of these programmes may be limited.

Citing the healthcare sector, he said: "Even after they go for the conversion programmes, few people stay on in healthcare."

The other two goals are to match the growing pool of older PMETs to jobs at small and medium-sized enterprises, and to reach out to all segments of the workforce, in which a big proportion are non-PMETs.

"We have to make sure our support programme is an inclusive one," Mr Lim said, adding that more can be done for job seekers with disabilities, women returning to work and rank-and-file workers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore aiming to create 25,000 to 40,000 jobs yearly'. Print Edition | Subscribe