SINGAPORE — Fewer companies in Singapore plan to increase headcount next year, initial findings from a survey showed on Tuesday (Dec 20), a reflection of the current uncertain economic climate.
According to a survey on 2017 employment trends by international recruitment consultancy Michael Page, about one in three employers in Singapore – or 36 per cent – plan to ramp up hiring next year, down from 49 per cent in the 2016 survey. Meanwhile, 57 per cent of companies indicated they plan to maintain headcount in 2017 while 7 per cent said they will cut staffing, the survey showed.
The survey underscores the challenges facing Singapore’s labour market amid slower gross domestic product growth at home and sluggish global economic conditions. The latest labour market report from the Ministry of Manpower released last week showed that total employment expanded by just 14,500 in the first nine months of this year, the slowest growth since the 2009 global financial crisis. Jobseekers also continued to outnumber the vacancies available for the second quarter in a row.
Michael Page’s 2017 Asia Salary & Employment Outlook survey contained responses from nearly 450 employers in Singapore across various industries. The full report - which will be launched in February - will also contain market insights and recruitment trends from more than 3,400 respondents in Asia.
The initial findings released on Tuesday showed that among those planning to increase headcount next year, six in 10 are looking to hire at middle management level. The majority of companies - 63 per cent - also said they plan to offer employees a 1 to 5 per cent salary increase, while 15 per cent said they do not plan a pay hike.
Hiring is expected to be dominated by the digital, technology and healthcare sectors.
“Digital, technology and healthcare are likely to be the country’s fastest-growing industries due to the Government’s pledged efforts to boost investment in these sectors. As a result, employers across these three sectors are likely to continue hiring actively, though recruitment efforts will largely focus on filling niche roles,” said Mr Anthony Thompson, regional managing director of Greater China, South East Asia & India at Michael Page.
These niche technical requirements, combined with requests from hiring managers for solid industry experience, are likely to result in fierce competition for a limited pool of talent next year, the report said.
Meanwhile, a separate survey by recruitment agency Randstad released on Tuesday showed that employees in Singapore were less optimistic than global peers about how their employers would perform financially next year.
About 56 per cent of employees in Singapore said they expect their employers to perform better financially in 2017, compared with the global average of 69 per cent, Randstad’s Workmonitor research report showed. This also compares with the 59 per cent in Hong Kong and 70 per cent in Malaysia.
“Retrenchments and hiring freezes as well as news of major global issues, such as Brexit and the US elections, have kept employees taking a more cautionary stance with regards to their expectations for the coming year,” said Mr Michael Smith, managing director for Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.