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Manpower in the Singapore economy - MAS outlook

Singapore bosses cautioned to reduce reliance on manpower

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Amid a tight local labour market and increased moderation on foreign employment, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has advised companies to adopt non-manpower-intensive strategies.

MOM’s latest labour market report found that 73.8% of total jobs created in 2014 went to locals.

However, total employment growth in 2014 (3.7%) was slightly lower than in 2013 (4.2%), due to moderated growth in foreign employment.

“Total employment growth was driven largely by strong local employment growth (96,000 or 4.4% in 2014, up from 82,900 or 4.0% in 2013), with more women and older locals participating in the labour market,” MOM stated.

The ministry warned, however, the recent gains in labour force participation are not expected to continue at the same pace. Local employment growth, specifically, is expected to decline significantly over the rest of the decade.

“It remains crucial for the Singapore economy to restructure towards reducing reliance on manpower. With the labour market expected to tighten further as local employment growth slows, businesses should step up efforts to adopt less labour-intensive practices,” said the ministry.

Unemployment in the country continued to decline over the past quarter for overall (from 2.0% to 1.9%), residents (2.8% to 2.6%) and citizens (2.9% to 2.6%) in December 2014.

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In addition, the number of job vacancies surged to a record high of 65,600 in December — the highest in nearly a decade — amid tight foreign labour supply and strong demand.

Openings were available across all skill levels. Almost half (47% or 28,600) of the vacancies in December 2014 were for PMETs, followed by clerical service and sales workers (28% or 17,300) and production, transport operators, cleaners and labourers (25% or 15,300).

Adecco Singapore’s country manager, Femke Hellemons, commented on the findings, “We expect hiring opportunities in high-margin activities, particularly in manufacturing sectors such as electronics, engineering, as well as the information communications and medical and science sectors.”

“Even though employment remains largely unchanged, the services sector remains the largest sector as it generated the majority of employment gains in 2014. The wholesale and retail trade followed by business services are Singapore’s biggest employers.”

Image: Shutterstock

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