Amid this economic downturn, job security is a top-of-mind issue for most Singaporeans. Afterall, the pandemic has badly impacted the labour market, causing pay cuts, hiring freezes and retrenchments.
Singapore’s unemployment rate is the highest it has ever been in 10 years. According to the latest preliminary data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), unemployment rose from 2.4 per cent in the first quarter to 2.9 per cent in the second quarter this year.
Retrenchments also more than doubled in the second quarter, with over 6,700 workers laid off — this is almost double from 3,220 in the first quarter.
However, there are silver linings observed. While unemployment rate crept up, it did not spike with support such as the COVID-19 support package under the supplementary Fortitude Budget announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat.
Although retrenchments increased, both the government and union have also urged companies to explore alternatives like shorter work weeks, redeployment or pay cuts before considering retrenchment as a last resort.
The Government has also pushed out various schemes and grants to help Singaporeans stay employable in this challenging economy.
It promised that 100,000 jobs and training places will be created, and a National Jobs Council has already been set up to coordinate these efforts.
Senior Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam, who chairs the council, stressed that supporting mid-career and mature workers is a key focus of the National Jobs Council.
“No Singaporean who is willing to learn should be too ‘too old’ to hire. And no one who is willing to adapt should be viewed as ‘overqualified’,” he said.
Towards this end, the government will work closely with the business associations to bring all employers into this national effort. The Ministry of Manpower will also watch companies’ hiring practices to ensure that they comply with the Fair Consideration Framework.
The framework requires employers to consider the local workforce fairly, and not discriminate on factors such as age, gender or race.
The National Jobs Council also oversees the design and implementation of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
It’s imperative that those who cannot get a job are given the chance for other work opportunities such as temporary jobs, internships and other forms of training. This helps them gain skills, exposure and experience, which they can carry with them into longer-term career opportunities eventually.
New Jobs In New Industries
Although the economy has been put to a halt due to COVID-19, Singaporeans can be assured that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger as the government looks to rebuild our economy with the creation of new jobs.
We have identified three high-growth sectors that will likely see a strong investment amidst these tough times:
1. Medical Technology
The medical technology (MedTech) market in Asia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8 per cent and is projected to overtake the EU as the second largest market globally by 2020.
Today, Singapore is home to more than 60 multinational MedTech companies.
One of the key drivers of Singapore’s MedTech industry is mobile health. Also known as mHealth, the use of mobile technology to monitor and share health information is seeing increased adoption worldwide. According to a market research report, the value of the global mHealth solutions market is expected to leap from US$21.3 billion in 2017 to US$160.5 billion by 2024.
We are also seeing increased investor willingness to support early-stage startups in the industry, including overseas companies looking to expand to Asia. In April last year, SGInnovate named five co-investors to focus on early-stage deep tech startups in various fields, including MedTech.
Check out 868 healthcare roles (as of 4 August 2020) on MyCareersFuture.sg here.
2. Information And Communications Technology
As the digital capital of Asia, Singapore is the preferred base for Information & Communications Technology (ICT) firms.
Ranked as the world’s most digitally connected country, Singapore offers world-class infrastructure, talent and a vibrant ecosystem of partners. It is working with leading companies to develop cutting-edge technologies and solutions to support Singapore’s Smart Nation vision, as well as regional and global markets.
Singapore has a vibrant ICT ecosystem and is home to many global and regional technology firms such as Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Grab, Lazada and Razer. All these firms are part of a rich ecosystem aggregating opportunities for ICT firms to partner with each other and with end user-companies to co-develop commercially viable solutions.
Check out the latest ICT Industry Virtual Career Fair here featuring ICT job vacancies.
3. Urban Solutions and Sustainability
Smart Sustainable Cities is Singapore’s effort to harness solutions across industries to ultimately create green, digital and efficient urban spaces. Singapore is well-placed to realise this after having successfully exported urban solutions in areas like built environment and city management, urban mobility, energy, safety and security, and environment and water.
As an urban living laboratory, companies are testing and developing smart city technologies in Singapore that will serve to boost the efficiencies and comfort of the lives of millions in the region.
For instance, as a small and densely populated country, Singapore depends on efficient and effective transportation solutions to overcome land and manpower constraints.
It presents real and challenging use-cases, making Singapore an attractive lead market and location for companies to develop, test and commercialise smart mobility technologies and solutions that can be exported to the global market.
How To Fast-Track Your Career Search
While the above-mentioned emerging industries will definitely give rise to more job opportunities, some Singaporeans are currently having a hard time landing new jobs.
When the going gets tough, it’s best to seek help from professionals.
Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Careers Connect in particular, offers complimentary career guidance for Singapore citizens and PRs to help ease the path of job seekers, especially those who are stressed and unsure of what to do after losing their jobs, or have been unsuccessful after submitting numerous job applications.
Career officers will guide and advise job seekers in their job search, and those who require more hand-holding can meet with a certified career coach who will work with job seekers in their career planning so they can make informed career choices and realise their job goals.
In the first session, a career coach will seek to understand your employment situation, identify your career goals, values, interests and skills to align them with the job opportunities available. During this difficult period, job seekers are also encouraged to consider contract or short-term jobs to gain relevant experience for the upturn.
From there, the career coach will help to map out an action plan, outlining the steps needed to achieve your goals.
By working with career coaches, you can personalise your career plan, get unbiased feedback to uncover your blind spots, acquire job-search skills to stand out from other candidates, and receive emotional support and build confidence in difficult times.
Are you unemployed or have been retrenched? Or do you know someone who needs career assistance?
Register your interest in WSG’s Career Matching Services by filling in this online form. WSG will then contact you to offer job assistance such as sending an online assistance package to help the retrenched get back into the workforce or arrange for a virtual career coaching session.
If you are retrenched or job-seeking, there are also employment support guides available that lists out retrenchment benefits and measures, as well as job search support available which you can check out here.
We’ve made good progress so far in fighting this crisis, and despite what lies ahead, we are definitely prepared to deal with the challenges of the future.
As long as we move forward with fortitude, stay united as one people, and remain resilient in the face of adversity, we will definitely overcome this crisis together and emerge stronger as a nation.
This article was written in collaboration with Workforce Singapore.
Featured Image Credit: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images