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Hiring intentions in Singapore positive across seven sectors in Q4 2018

The local labour market is expected to finish on a high note this year as employers in Singapore continue to report stronger hiring intentions for the fourth-quarter (Q4) of 2018, revealed ManpowerGroup's latest Employment Outlook Survey.

Interviewing a representative sample of 620 employers in Singapore, the survey reported the Net Employment Outlook to be +13% after accounting for seasonal variation. This marks three consecutive quarters of strengthening hiring outlooks for Singapore, with employers reporting the most optimistic forecast since 2015.

Of those surveyed, 16% intended to add to their headcount, only 3% expected to decrease and 75% anticipated no change.

On the continued strong hiring forecast, Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, commented, "More companies are recruiting specialists in IT and other digital-functions as they undergo digital transformation. Furthermore, with Singapore’s economic growth projected to remain on track, employers across all sectors remain optimistic about business prospects and their expansion plans."

In terms of organisation size, large employers (250 or more employees) reported the strongest hiring prospects with a Net Employment Outlook of +22%.

Elsewhere, hiring intentions stand at +18% and +11% for Medium (50-249 employees) and Small (10-49 employees) employers, respectively, while the Micro firms (less than 10 employees) reported an outlook of +6%.

By sector, positive hiring outlooks were found across the seven sectors included in the report.

The strongest hiring outlook was observed in the public administration and education sector, reporting a +37% seasonally adjusted employment outlook - a sharp 23 percentage-point increase from Q3 2018.

On the spike in hiring intention, Teo said: "Companies are increasingly recognising the need to build their base of talents to counter manpower constraints and talent shortages. As more work becomes automated, organisations need to reskill and upskill their workforce to work with the new digital tools, and we believe efforts like these are contributing to the boost in hiring activity in the public administration and education sector."

On the flipside, the transportation and utilities sector reported the lowest hiring intention, at +4% after taking into account seasonal variations.

Here's a quick summary of the hiring intentions in each sector.

Finance, insurance, and real estate

In the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, employers reported a favourable hiring climate, with a net employment outlook of +14% (seasonally adjusted). However, compared to the previous quarter, hiring intentions are considerably weaker, declining by percentage points. That said, there was a year-on-year improvement of 3 percentage points in comparison with 4Q 2017.


Reporting a net employment outlook of +11% (seasonally adjusted), employers forecasted respectable job gains in 4Q 2018. The outlook declined by 2 percentage points quarter-over-quarter, but improved by 7 percentage points when compared with this time one year ago.

Mining and construction

The strongest labor market in two years is anticipated in the October-December time frame. Employers reported a net employment outlook of +11% (seasonally adjusted), improving by 8 and 12 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, respectively.

Public administration and education

Employers in this sector reported a bright net employment outlook of +37% (seasonally adjusted) - the strongest hiring pace in five years. Compared with the previous quarter, this is an improvement of 23 percentage-points. Year-over-year, an increase of 16 percentage points can be seen.


The respectable hiring climate is forecast to continue in the final quarter of 2018, with employers reporting a net employment outlook of +12% (seasonally adjusted) for the second consecutive quarter. However, hiring intentions declined by 5 percentage points when compared with this time one year ago.

Transportation and utilities

Expect limited hiring in transportation and utilities for the October-December period. Employers in the sector reported a low outlook of +4% (seasonally adjusted). Compared with the previous quarter and previous year, hiring prospects declined by 8 and 13 percentage points, respectively.

Wholesale trade and retail trade

Employers continue to report cautiously optimistic hiring plans, with a net employmentoutlook of +9% (seasonally adjusted) for 4Q 2018. Hiring intentions remain unchanged when compared with the previous quarter, and improved by 2 percentage points in comparison with the final quarter of 2017.

"The strong labor market forecast for the next three months is good news for job seekers, but only if they have the relevant skill sets and experience as ManpowerGroup's recent Talent Shortage Survey revealed that 56% of employers in Singapore are struggling to find candidates with right skills to fill jobs," Teo noted.

APAC: Japan reports strongest hiring intention, China weakest

In the Asia Pacific region, staffing levels are expected to grow by varying levels in all eight countries and territories.

Employers in Japan reported the strongest hiring intention of +26% (seasonally adjusted), followed by those in Taiwan (+21%), Hong Kong (+17%) and New Zealand (+15%). Steady hiring activity is expected in Singapore, Australia and India, all with seasonally adjusted outlooks of +13%. While the The weakest labor market is anticipated in China at +6% (seasonally adjusted) despite positive hiring plans across industry sectors.

When compared to the third quarter of 2018, outlooks improve in three countries and territories (Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore) and decline in three others (China, India, and Taiwan).

Infographic / ManpowerGroup Singapore

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