Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Singapore employers are looking to hire in Q3 2021, but face talent shortages

Singapore employers are looking to hire in Q3 2021, but face talent shortages

About six in ten employers (64%) have reported difficulty in hiring, and this is most common inroles like operations & logistics.

ManpowerGroup’s latest Employment Outlook Survey (8 June) revealed positive hiring intentions from Singapore employers between July to September 2021. In this period, the net employment outlook stands at +15% - an improvement of 43 percentage points (pp) from Q3 2020, when COVID-19 first had an impact on hiring sentiment.

The survey was conducted with 624 employers between April to May 2021, prior to the announcement of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions.

Employment outlook

According to the report, for the Q3 2021 period, employers in Singapore are said to be:

  • Increasing payrolls/hiring (22%);
  • Decreasing payrolls/laying off workers (6%);
  • Keeping workforce levels steady (70%);
  • Undecided (2%)

Linda Teo, Country Manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, shared: “The recent return to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures show how unpredictable the pandemic situation can be.

“Employers have resumed their hiring activity, but remain cautious in their approach as they keep their plans fluid in anticipation of any new developments.”

In fact, based on ManpowerGroup’s data, employers in all seven industry sectors surveyed (finance insurance & real estate, manufacturing, mining & construction, public admin & education, services, transportation & utilities, and wholesale trade & retail trade) are looking to increase payrolls during the upcoming quarter.

Accounting for seasonal variation, the report showed that the sector with the strongest job outlook is the finance, insurance & real estate sector. It holds an optimistic net employment outlook of +27%. At the same time, hiring prospects in this sector improved by 10pp from the previous quarter, and 31pp year-on-year.

The net employment outlook for each of the other six sectors is as follows:

  • Public administration & education sector (+21%);
  • Mining & construction sector (+20%);
  • Manufacturing sector (+17%);
  • Services sector (+14%);
  • Wholesale & retail trade sector (+11%);
  • Transportation & utilities sector (+9%)

When compared to Q2 2021, there are three sectors that see a weakened hiring sentiment. Most notably in the mining & construction sector, which declined by a considerable 16pp; while the transportation & utilities sector, and the public administration & education sector declined by 12pp and 11pp respectively.

Talent shortage

While employers’ hiring plans look “cautiously optimistic”, many still do struggle to hire the talent they need for certain jobs, the report noted. This year, about six in 10 employers (64%) in Singapore have reported difficulty in hiring; most so, in roles like operations & logistics.

Overall, the top five in-demand roles that employers are looking to fill, include:

  1. Operations & logistics
  2. Sales & marketing
  3. Manufacturing & production
  4. IT & data
  5. Front office & customer facing

One reason employers are facing hiring woes, according to the report, was that “hard and soft skills are more difficult to find than ever before” - thus resulting in a 15-year high on talent shortage.

Employers are also increasingly valuing workers and leaders with the relevant soft skills especially during times of rapid developments and uncertainty.

Teo commented: “The results show that as the pace of digitalisation accelerates, labour market recovery will follow a K-shaped trend where industries and people in growth sectors and (who) have the in-demand skills are bouncing back faster and better, while others are at risk of falling further behind.”

Apart from the above, ManpowerGroup’s data also revealed five soft skills in “high demand” in Singapore. They are:

  • Initiative taking
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Accountability, reliability, discipline
  • Resilience, stress tolerance, and adaptability
  • Creativity and originality

“Besides working on acquiring the required technical skills, individuals should develop in-demand soft skills such as initiative-taking and leadership to stand out in the job market,” Teo continued.

APAC findings

Looking at the Asia Pacific landscape, employers in six of the seven countries and territories covered expect to add to payrolls during the next three months, while a flat labour market is expected in one.

For instance, with seasonal variation accounted for, the Chinese (+13%), Taiwanese (+24%), Australian (+17%), and Japanese (+10%) labour markets are looking at a stronger hiring climate.

In Hong Kong (0%) and India (+7%), however, the labour markets are more subdued.


Follow us on Telegram @humanresourcesonline or click here for all the latest weekly HR and manpower news from around the region!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window