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More Singaporeans are now unemployed

Despite earlier reports claiming that vacancies in Singapore are outnumbering job seekers, more people in the nation are getting unemployed.

According to the latest Ministry of Manpower report, while the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (2.0%) has remained unchanged in Q3 2015, the unemployment rate rose slightly among residents (2.8% to 3.0%) and citizens (2.9% to 3.1%).

The report estimated that 56,600 Singapore residents and 51,100 Singapore citizens were unemployed in September 2015 with seasonally adjusted figures being 66,800 and 59,800 respectively.

At the same time, fewer workers were made redundant in Q3 2015 (2,900 workers compared to 3,250 workers in Q2).

The bulk of the redundancies was in the services sector, even though less workers were laid off in the field as compared to the previous quarter.

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On the other hand, an increase in the number of layoffs was seen in the construction sector, from 230 in Q2 to 300 in this quarter.

The report also found that there was an increase in the overall employment rate in Q3 2015.

The overall employment grew by 16,400 in the third quarter, faster than in the second quarter (9,700). However this was slower as compared to a year ago (33,400).

"The weaker global economy coupled with China’s slowdown in the last few months has impacted Singapore’s economic and employment conditions," said Jaya Dass, country manager for Randstad Singapore.

While overall unemployment figures have remained consistently low, she added the slight rise in unemployment among residents and citizens for the second consecutive quarter outlines the importance of jobseekers to maintain and develop their skills.

"It is increasingly vital that jobseekers, as well as current employees, constantly update their skills and industry knowledge. To ensure they remain competitive in their industry, employees should take advantage of their company’s internal training programmes or sign up for relevant external courses," said Dass.

ALSO READ: Singapore suffers from great talent mismatches, wage gaps

Human Resources reached out to HR experts for their views on the situation.

Jassy Tan, divisional director of human resources for FJ Benjamin (Singapore) explained: "The increase in vacancy rates and employment is largely in the retail, service and construction section where it’s mainly the lower skilled workers."

On the other hand, the increase in unemployment rate is primarily among PMETs where people are highly skilled in their areas of expertise as "many of them may not be willing to be re-skilled entirely nor accept different work conditions at a much lower pay."

"So while there is an increase in vacancy rates (in the retail, service and construction industry), PMETs who are unemployed are not necessarily able to be fill these vacancies," she noted.

"While employers like FJ Benjamin, who are in the retail sector, have a lot of vacancies in the front end (retail jobs), candidates available in the market are not taking up these roles as they feel it’s a mismatch in terms of their job expectations and the work conditions they want," Tan observed.

Her advice to employers? To capitalise on the pool of applicants out there by providing some kind of conversion programme for PMETs to be attracted to join such industries.

"This may mean coming up with a job re-design programme to bridge the difference in their job expectations," she suggested.

However, this is easier said than done, she pointed out.

For such a programme to work, there has to be buy-in by both the senior management and operations management as well as acceptance by the PMETs available for employment to be open to a change of environment," Tan cautioned.

"Barriers need to be broken down, both by the company as well as the individuals concerned."

Image: Shutterstock

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