Broadly speaking, Singapore’s job market has bounced back well from the Covid-19 pandemic. The labour market improved significantly in 2022 compared to 2021, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s Statement on Labour Market Developments in 2022, released in March 2023.
Total employment in Singapore grew by an unprecedented 226,700, reaching 2.9% above pre-pandemic levels. Residential unemployment and long-term unemployment rates as of December 2022 remained low.
Despite retrenchments in certain sectors towards the tail end of the year, total retrenchments in 2022 remained low compared to pre-pandemic years. Those who were retrenched quickly found other jobs, with the percentage of retrenched local workers who found employment increasing to 73.1% in the fourth quarter of 2022, the highest since 2015.
However, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng warned that it was still crucial to strengthen our local workforce ahead of global headwinds.
“We had a good run last year. But there are headwinds that are actually not on the distant horizon; they are quite near, with all the global uncertainties and volatilities.”
“This is the best time – while we are on a bit of a roll – to seize whatever opportunities that come our way and make sure that we are better prepared.”
Different industries face different outlooks
According to MOM’s report, while unemployment numbers are healthy, job vacancies have fallen in the last three consecutive quarters, which could be attributed to the headwinds Minister Tan referenced.
From an industry standpoint, more locals were hired in the following sectors:
- Financial services
- Information & communications
- Professional services
Aviation and tourism-related sectors, such as air transport and accommodation, are expected to continue to benefit from the recovery in air travel and inbound tourism, especially after the relaxation of China’s border restrictions.
However, the growth outlook for manufacturing remains weak due to the broader slowdown in the global economy. As such, MOM believes that employment growth will likely ease and be uneven across sectors in 2023.
“Levelling up” our Singapore workforce
Given this backdrop, Minister Tan says it’s crucial for Singaporean workers to stay up to date with the constant upgrades in relevant skills and shifting trends in our job market.
“Because of accelerating changes happening around the world, all the disruptions happening in the tech industry, financial services, as well as in healthcare, we need to make sure that we keep constantly abreast and ahead of these changes,” he added during an interview on CNA’s Singapore Tonight.
The government has also invested significantly in initiatives to help the local workforce upskill and stay relevant, he said.
For example, Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Career Conversion Programme helps mid-career workers undergo skills conversion. By equipping them with expertise for new roles or sectors, Singaporean workers can get an edge in career progression.
“We need to continue to strengthen the entire local workforce, and help to secure safer, progressive, more inclusive workplaces to ensure that all Singaporeans have fair and equitable work,” Minister Tan said.
He also referenced WSG’s new CareersFinder tool, which offers more personalised training and job recommendations, at his recent Committee of Supply (COS) 2023 speech in Parliament.
An integration of upskilling and jobs digital services, it meets feedback from local jobseekers and employers to consolidate services and information for finding a job and skills upgrading, which are complementary and often come hand-in-hand.
Minister Tan elaborated: “CareersFinder is the first step to try and integrate both functions.
“It uses data on skills adjacencies and job transitions in the labour market to help jobseekers identify potential career opportunities, personalised based on their individual profiles, and recommend suitable training programmes to help them achieve their career goals.
“CareersFinder is a new feature which will only become more powerful as the data grows. We will continue to enhance it over time to make it more responsive to jobseekers’ needs.”
Learn more about how your industry and job might be changing
Employers and Singaporean workers can refer to the Job Transformation Maps (JTMs) to understand how industries and job demands could evolve in response to digitalisation and sectoral trends.
A total of 10 JTMs are available on WSG’s website, and eight more will be progressively completed.
These JTMs identify the key technologies driving change and their impact on individual job roles.
With this information, employers and workers can pre-emptively redesign jobs, and acquire the necessary skills for jobs of the future!