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S'poreans are less optimistic about hiring for the third quarter in a row: Survey

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  • Singapore's hiring outlook has weakened for the third consecutive quarter, with a net employment outlook of 20% for Q3 2024.
  • The finance and real estate sectors have seen a significant decline in hiring optimism, while the transport, logistics, and automotive sectors report strong job growth.
  • Flexible working arrangements and the adoption of artificial intelligence are key trends shaping the future of Singapore's job market.

Singapore's job market is experiencing a downturn in hiring optimism for the third consecutive quarter, according to the latest employment outlook survey by ManpowerGroup. The survey, which polled 525 employers across nine sectors, reveals a net employment outlook of 20% for the third quarter of 2024, a decline from the previous quarter's 24%.

The finance and real estate sectors have been particularly impacted, with their net employment outlook plummeting by 30 percentage points to 15%. This decline is attributed to subdued growth and cost challenges, prompting employers to adopt a more cautious approach to hiring. Linda Teo, country manager at ManpowerGroup Singapore, noted, "The bulk of the dip in hiring sentiment can be attributed to companies making strategic moves to streamline their business, such as looking offshore to cut costs or fill the skills gap."

Despite the overall decline, there are bright spots in the job market. The transport, logistics, and automotive sectors report a robust net employment outlook of 47%, the highest among the nine sectors surveyed. This sector's strong performance is driven by green initiatives and investments in electric vehicles (EVs). "Green initiatives driving domestic emission reduction are expected to boost job growth in Singapore’s transport, logistics and automotive sector," said Teo. Companies in this sector are actively seeking skilled talent proficient in EV management and charging infrastructure navigation.

The survey also highlights a significant talent shortage across most sectors, with 72% of employers in the communication services sector planning to increase their headcount. However, this sector remains the weakest job market with a negative outlook of -33%, worsening from the previous quarter's -29%. The adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning is expected to drive future hiring in this sector, with more than half of the companies surveyed already integrating these technologies.

Flexible working arrangements are gaining traction in Singapore, with more companies considering remote workers to bridge the skills gap. This trend is expected to continue as employers prioritize soft skills such as adaptability and learning agility in their hiring decisions.

The survey also examined hiring plans based on company size. Small firms with 10 to 49 employees reported the strongest outlook at 46%, while micro-organizations with fewer than 10 employees had a negative outlook of -8%. Very large organizations with 1,000 to 4,999 employees saw a significant drop in their net employment outlook, falling from 46% to 6%.

While Singapore's overall hiring sentiment remains soft, certain sectors like transport, logistics, and automotive are experiencing robust job growth. Employers are increasingly focusing on strategic business moves, flexible working arrangements, and the adoption of advanced technologies to navigate the current employment landscape.

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