How hiring trends shaped up in Singapore in 2021

How hiring trends shaped up in Singapore in 2021

About 44% of all job vacancies in the year comprised newly-created positions.

For the first time since 2014, there was an increase in the share of job vacancies unfilled in Singapore for six months or more in 2021, reflecting the overall tight labour market.

As observed by Singapore’s Manpower Research and Statistics Department (MRSD), the proportion of job vacancies unfilled for six months or more increased to 35% in 2021, from 27% the previous year. Before this, the proportion had been on a "broad downtrend" from 2014.

Particularly, for professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs), the growth sectors of information & communications, financial & insurance services, professional services, and health & social services collectively accounted for close to half of the unfilled positions.

More specifically, the top industries’ share of PMET vacancies unfilled for six months in 2021 were as follows:

  • 20% from professional services,
  • 12% from health & social services, 
  • 12% from information & communications, and
  • 4% from financial & insurance services.

The remaining vacancies were distributed across several industries.

While resident employment grew steadily across all the above-listed sectors, it was insufficient to meet the rising demand for such workers. Employers indicated a shortage of candidates with the necessary skills and work experience, in particular for positions where incumbents rely on specialised technical knowledge (e.g. software, web & multimedia developers, systems analysts) as well as increased competition from other employers for positions such as audit associate professionals and registered nurses.

The full list of the top five PMET positions unfilled for at least six months:

  1. Software, web & multimedia developer
  2. Audit associate professional
  3. Registered nurse & other nursing professionals
  4. Systems analyst
  5. Commercial & marketing sales executive

The report also looked into the reasons for job vacancies that were hard to fill by residents.

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Another key overall hiring trend observed was that newly-created positions made up 44% of all job vacancies in the year – an increase from the 42% in 2020. This was particularly noted in growth industries, (information & communications, financial & insurance services, and professional services) as compared to in the service or production-related industries, such as manufacturing, food & beverage services, and accommodation.

There was also a slight decline in vacancies for remote work, from 35% to 31%. This reflected the higher proportion of vacancies in industries and occupations where remote work was not prevalent. These would include industrial & production engineers and electrical & electronic equipment assemblers in manufacturing, and civil engineers and construction labourers.

At the same time, with the resumption of workplace activities, fewer employers offered remote work options for occupations that usually require face-to-face interactions or on-site presence (e.g. operations officers in food & beverage services and commercial & marketing sales executives).

Interestingly, the report noted that more employers were assessing job applicants not just based on academic qualifications alone. For 73% of vacancies in 2021, academic qualifications were not the main determinant for hiring. This proportion has been on the rise, with a more pronounced increase observed for PMETs.

Instead of academic qualifications, candidates’ skill-sets and work attitudes were key determinants listed.

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Top 10 PMET job vacancies in 2021

Apart from hiring trends, the report also looked into jobs and skills in demand. 

The top 10 PMET roles that saw job vacancies in the year are:

  1. Commercial & marketing sales executive
  2. Software, web & multimedia developer
  3. Operations officer (except transport operations)
  4. System analyst
  5. Management executive
  6. Business development manager
  7. Electronics engineer
  8. Management & business consultant
  9. Industrial & production engineer
  10. Teaching & training professional


For PMETs, there was a strong growing demand for STEM professionals – in IT and engineering roles. 

With digital technology's pivotal role in today’s economy, IT and multimedia development roles such as software, web & multimedia developers, and systems analysts also remained highly sought-after jobs.

At the same time, network, communications & infrastructure managers, graphic & multimedia designers & artists, as well as database designers & administrators also saw a rise in demand. These vacancies typically require knowledge of programming languages (e.g. Java, Python, and C#) and common software development processes to understand, design, monitor and improve technical systems, MRSD noted.

With such niche skills being essential for these roles, employers were willing to offer higher pay to fill these positions.

Business development and sales roles such as commercial & marketing sales executives and business development managers also noted a stable and large pool of job openings. These roles, according to MRSD, remain crucial as firms adapt to changes and seek out new business opportunities.

Albeit modestly, demand rose for administration professionals such as management & business consultants, human resource consultants, and policy administration professionals, doubling from five years ago to make up 3% of all vacancies in 2021.

Top 10 non-PMET job vacancies in 2021

The report also cited the top 10 job vacancies among non-PMET roles, along with wages offered and academic qualifications required. The 10 roles are:

  1. Construction labourer
  2. Shop sales assistant
  3. Cleaner
  4. Receptionist, customer service & information clerk
  5. Waiter
  6. Security guard
  7. General office clerk
  8. Heavy truck & lorry driver
  9. Electrical & electronic equipment assembler
  10. Kitchen assistant

 arina mom mrsd jobvacanciesreport provided

Lead image / 123RF

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