Singapore's employment rates soar, skills drought abates

Government will continue support for employers to achieve recovery

Singapore's employment rates soar, skills drought abates

The total employment of Singapore "increased significantly" in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday, following an increase in the resident and non-resident employment. Resident employment continued to expand at a faster pace compared to the preceding quarter, said MOM, due to the seasonal hiring due to the year-end peak period in the sectors of Food and Beverages Services and Retail Trade.

"At the same time, resident employment continued to grow steadily in outward-oriented sectors such as Information & Communications and Financial Services," said the ministry.

On the other hand, non-resident employment saw growth for the first time in eight quarters, after the country began allowing the entry of construction, marine shipyard, and process workers in November. However, other sectors remained flat after consecutive quarters of decline. Despite this, MOM said that non-resident employment will contract for the whole of 2021, though it will be at a slower pace than in 2020.

"This smaller decline, coupled with stronger resident employment growth, is expected to result in a rebound in total employment, compared with the contraction of 166,600 in 2020," explained MOM.

Read more: More Singapore firms hiring gig workers

Unemployment, retrenchments

Meanwhile, MOM said that the unemployment situation "continued to improve" and it is expecting unemployment rates to decline to pre-COVID levels. Overall, total unemployment rate dropped to 2.6%, resident employment plunged to 3.5%, while citizen employment declined to 3.7%.

"With gradual improvement in the unemployment situation throughout the year, the annual unemployment rates showed significant improvement in 2021," said MOM.

In terms of retrenchment, the government said it also significant declines over the year, from 26,110 in 2020 to 7,820 in 2021. Retrenchments were mainly due to reorganisation and restructuring of organisations, according to MOM, unlike in 2020 when it was due to recession or business downturn.

"We expect the labour market to continue to improve in 2022, driven by an overall easing in domestic COVID-19 restrictions and the resumption of international travel. However, recovery to pre-COVID state continues to be uneven across sectors, and uncertainty remains over the trajectory of the virus," MOM said.

A more detailed Labour Market Report 2021 will be released in mid-March this year, according to MOM.

Read more: Singapore employers struggling to cope with digital disruption

Employers to get continuous support

Amid the improving labour market, the government said it will continue its support for workers and businesses in order to achieve recovery. Here are the current initiatives for employers:

  • Jobs Growth Incentive. The programme provides eligible employers salary support to help them expand local hiring. It will remain available for new local hires until March 2022.
  • Career Conversion Programmes (CCP). Singapore has about 100 CCPs that help employers hire and train mid-career workers, or reskill and redeploy current ones to new job roles. The initiative provides support for up to 90% of training and salary costs for employers.

For jobseekers, the following initiatives will also remain:

  • SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme. This offers attachment opportunities for mid-career jobseekers. The jobseeker gets industry-relevant skills to increase their employability and monthly training allowances. Host organisations, on the other hand, will receive higher government co-funding for training allowance.
  • Workforce Singapore and National Trades Union Congress's Employment and Employability Institute. Jobseekers may also approach the following organisations if they need career matching services.


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