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Singapore suffers from great talent mismatches, wage gaps

Talent woes continue to plague the shores of Singapore, as research reveals several pressure points facing the local labour market today.

The Hays Global Skills Index, produced in collaboration with Oxford Economics, Singapore's labour market is facing high pressure in five of seven potential pressure points measured. The higher the score, the more pressure faced, compared to historical data.

Singapore received very high scores for indicators such as wage pressure in high-skill industries and talent mismatch.

'Wage pressure in high-skill industries' received the highest score of 8.5 out of 10, indicating that the rate at which wages in high-skill industries are rising greatly outpaces that of low-skilled industries.

"This score supports what we’re seeing on the ground, namely that wages in high-skill industries are rising much quicker than those in low-skill industries relative to the past," said Lynne Roeder, managing director of Hays in Singapore.

She pointed to specific skill shortages in sectors like engineering and technology, where employers in such high-skill industries are competing for the top talent.

Comparatively, Hong Kong received a score of 6.2 on the same indicator.

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Apart from wages, the island nation also faces pressure in the indicator of 'talent mismatch' with a high score of 6.0, which implies local talent often does not have the skills wanted by employers, leading to both higher rates of vacancies and unemployment.

Singapore also received a high score of 5.5 when it came to 'labour market participation', suggesting that most of the country's labour force has been utilised and can't be increased in great numbers.

Other than skill shortages, another aspect where the country's labour market came under pressure was in 'wage pressure in high-skill occupations' (5.9).

This meant that wages for highly-skilled candidates such as managers, senior officials or skilled trades are rising faster than for low-skilled candidates such as process, plant and machines operatives, and administration workers, according to Roeder.

This high demand but short supply of talent for highly-skilled occupations is leading to wage pressure for suitable candidates.

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Indeed, when it came to overall wage pressure, Singapore's score saw a dramatic rise, from 1.3 in 2014 to 5.8 this year.

Roeder explained this huge increase means wages rise much faster than historically seen, indicative of an overall tightness in the labour market, especially in the talent war for highly-skilled professionals.

She added: "Singapore’s standing as a regional hub for multinational corporations and the sheer number of construction and infrastructure projects bolsters a highly active recruitment market. But Singapore faces a significant talent gap thanks to growing technical skill shortages."

"Government initiatives that endorse local Singaporean hires for middle income jobs have further exacerbated the shortage of talented locals, as the huge increase in overall wage pressure shows."

She advised employers to use a range of innovative attraction strategies, not just salary increases, to keep recruitment plans intact.

Hays Global Skills Index

Lead image: Shutterstock

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