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Global hiring giant Indeed released the latest labour market update for Singapore last month, covering the period from May to end August of 2022, tracking the changing demand not only for jobs across the entire country but for specific professions as well.
The overall number of postings is a healthy 30% up over a year ago but slowed down on a month-to-month basis with openings growing by just 0.8% between August and July (and have remained broadly the same since March).
That said, while the situation is stable across the market as a whole, it is quite a lot more volatile in specific industries — with several recording high double digit growth or fall in the latest 3-month period.
The biggest surge in demand is visible in medical services, with postings for physicians & surgeons recording a whopping 52.6% increase over May of 2022, followed by nurses at 11.7%.
- Physicians & surgeons (+52.6%)
- Hospitality & tourism (+16.1%)
- Insurance (+13%)
- Nursing (+11.7%)
- Veterinary (+10.5%)
- Real estate (+10.4%)
- Retail (+8.5%)
- Logistics support (+7.3%)
- Arts & entertainment (+7%)
- Media & communications (+4.9%)
This appears to be one of enduring consequences of the pandemic, which has recently led to a spillover of patients in Singaporean hospitals into emergency departments as hospitals are struggling to cope.
Waiting time for beds in some hospitals in October was reported to have reached up to 50 hours, with a simple specialist consultation taking up to 6 hours, as patients are now advised to consult their GPs if their state is non-critical.
Fear of contracting the virus left many without adequate medical care in the past 2 years and they are now visiting hospitals in a worse state than it otherwise could have been, leading to a surge in demand for space and more specialist services, according to a doctor of one of the government hospitals quoted by CNA:
“A lot of older people didn’t go to see a GP doctor or get their medications refilled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and just let it lapse for whatever reason,” said one senior doctor who works at a public hospital. “So the patients who are coming in are sicker and because of that, they have to stay in the hospital.”
Other industries showing a visible growth in demand for workforce appear to also be reflecting the return to post-pandemic normalcy (with all of its good and bad consequences) and in-person services — in tourism, entertainment, retail or real estate (amidst a high demand for properties).
Harder life for hard skills
On the opposite end, the list of professions reporting the largest drops in job offers is dominated by those requiring hard — technical — skills, particularly in specialized engineering (chemical, mechanical, industrial) as well as more physical jobs in production, manufacturing, construction and maintenance.
- Chemical engineering (-40.1%)
- Childcare (-27.7%)
- Mechanical engineering (-21.6%)
- Construction (-19.6%)
- Beauty & wellness (-16.4%)
- Civil engineering (-12.2%)
- Medical technician (-11%)
- Industrial engineering (-10.7%)
- Production & manufacturing (-10.7%)
- Cleaning & sanitation (-9.8%)
A noticeable drop in demand for childcare providers is a little perplexing, given that return to in-person work should result in greater need for their services. That said, it may very well be so due to the fact that the market has already adjusted to the new normal in the preceding month (as childcare is one of the fundamental services needed by working parents and, thus, has filled its vacancies much earlier).
Remote work in retreat
One of the most interesting trends — though likely not welcome by most job seekers – is the continued fall in jobs offering some degree of remote work from home.
While it is an imperfect measure (i.e. tracking the keywords in job offers), Indeed is reporting that only 5.2% of listings contained reference to remote work by end of August 2022 — down from 11.1% in early December of 2021.
This is despite rather stable interest among job seekers, with 3.9% of all searches executed via the platform still referencing remote work or other flexible arrangements — which is around the peak that Indeed reported earlier in the year.
Calm before the storm?
The way things look today it seems that Singapore has pretty much rebounded from the pandemic. GDP is growing, unemployment is low, job offers have bounced back and now remain at a stable, healthy level.
Inflation bites, though unevenly and, on the whole, not as much here as anywhere else in the world where prices have been galloping upwards by double digits.
That said, as American Fed is expected to raise interest rates again in November, the risk of a recession in 2023 remains high – and for a country as dependent on international trade as Singapore is it may spell some trouble.
Perhaps not so much an economic disaster but unpleasant volatility, economic turbulence which may throw quite a few people out of their jobs into uncertainty as the global economy tries to find a new normal.
There remain many unknowns that make accurate predictions very hard – if not impossible.
Chinese economic policy during Xi Jinping’s 3rd term, midterm elections in the USA, which are almost certain to turn Biden into a lame-duck president, as Republicans are poised to take both chambers of Congress; the outcome of Russian war in Ukraine and the looming winter which, depending on temperatures, may either hurt or barely scratch European economies.
The next six to nine months are among the most important in decades, having impact on the entire world – and individual job-seekers in Singapore will not be an exception.
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