Positive, but conservative, hiring intentions can be expected in Singapore in Q1 2018, with only 15% of local employers expecting to increase their staffing levels, revealed ManpowerGroup’s latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS).

Interviewing nearly 650 Singaporean employers, the MEOS further found that 6% forecasted a decrease and 69% anticipated no change in headcount, resulting in a net employment outlook of +9% in the Lion City after seasonal variations have been taken into account.

While employers across the seven industry sectors surveyed expected to increase headcount in the next quarter, the strongest labour markets were both the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and the public administration and education sector - both recording a net employment outlooks of +25%. Both sectors also reported the strongest hiring outlook in over 3 years.

Explaining this strong hiring outlook, Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, said: "The strong hiring pace anticipated could be attributed to the pickup in economic growth which has fanned consumer sentiment, leading to a greater appetite for loans and financial products like insurance.

"Also, as financial institutions continue to expand their digital capabilities, especially in the areas of cybersecurity and financial technology (fintech), there will be a consistent demand for IT talents like data analysts and blockchain specialists."

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Elsewhere, employers in the services sector anticipated a steady hiring pace, reporting an outlook of +15%, while those in wholesale and retail trade reported a cautiously optimistic outlook of +9%.

The more cautious employers came from the manufacturing sector, with a forecasted outlook of +6%; as well as the mining and construction, and transportation and utilities sectors, where both sectors reported outlooks of +5%.

"While the employers in the manufacturing sector anticipate demand for semiconductor-related equipment to continue into 2018, the economy is still in its recovery phase. Employers are taking a cautious approach to see if the current economy transitions to a normalisation phase," Teo explained.

Apart from categorising employers into sectors, ManpowerGroup's MEOS also explored hiring prospects by organisation size.

Categorising employers into four organisation sizes - micro businesses with less than 10 employees, small businesses with 10-49 employees, medium businesses with 50-249 employees, and large businesses with 250 or more employees - it found that large employers anticipated the strongest hiring prospects with a net employment outlook of +13%.

As for the medium-, micro-, and small-sized employers, moderate hiring activity was expected, with outlooks of +9% for both medium- and micro-sized employers and the outlook for small firms standing at +8%.

MEOS Q1 2018 SG infographic


Across the Asia Pacific countries and territories, interviewing nearly 15,000 employers, the MEOS observed a general trend of stronger outlook.

In comparison to the fourth-quarter results, hiring forecast improved by varying margins in five countries (Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan), weakening in only two (Singapore, Hong Kong) and remaining unchanged in one (China).

Employers in Taiwan (+25%) reported the most optimistic forecast in the region, as well as across the globe. While the weakest forecasts in APAC were reported by employers in China (+8%) and Singapore (+9%).

Meanwhile, across the globe, interviewing nearly 59,000 employers across 43 countries, ManpowerGroup's MEOS found that forecasts were improving or remaining stable in the majority of countries.

Workforce gains of varying margins were forecasted by employers in 41 of 43 countries and Q1 2018 will mark the second consecutive quarter since the global financial crisis in 2009 where employers reported no negative outlooks among the 43 countries and territories.

Additionally, employers in a number of countries, including Australia, Japan, Norway, Poland, Romania and the United States, reported their strongest hiring plans in five years or more. Signs of declining volatility were also observed in some countries— most notably in Brazil, China and India.

MEOS Q1 2018 Global infographic

Infographic and lead photo / ManpowerGroup