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2023 kicks off to an even more optimistic start than 2022 did, with the net employment outlook score in the latest survey, published today (January 5) by ManpowerGroup, coming in at +33 per cent. It is the net difference between companies willing to hire and companies expecting to cut their headcounts ahead of the first quarter of the year.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: ManpowerGroup Singapore

However, while last year was all about post-pandemic revival, the trends for 2023 may be a bit more muted as optimism is set to go down rather than up (already dropping by three per cent from Q4 2022).

“Nonetheless, there is still a strong demand for talent across sectors, especially in finance and real estate, where companies are hiring tech talent aggressively to grow their digital financial services capabilities,” said Linda Teo, Country Manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.

Hottest industries

Of course, averages mean very little without a more detailed context as the situation is never the same across all segments of the economy. So, which industries are showing the most optimism and which are expected to be a bit more stagnant this year?

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Net employment score by the sector surveyed / Image Credit: ManpowerGroup Singapore

The good news is that in spite of some differences, all nine sectors covered by ManpowerGroup this quarter are expecting to add more people to their ranks.

Leading the pack are finance and real estate, where 62 per cent of companies intend to hire and just five per cent expect reductions, producing a net employment score of 57 per cent.

Another hot sector is energy and utilities, where 59 per cent expect to grow their teams and nine per cent anticipating cuts, putting the entire industry at a net positive 50 per cent.

Elsewhere, retail, IT, logistics and industry/manufacturing all landed around the survey’s average with healthcare and communication falling below, but still planning to employ more than they intend to cut.

Quality ahead of quantity

We have to remember, however, that intending to hire doesn’t automatically mean all of the positions will be filled, as the quality of candidates is a prerequisite to unlocking a greater number of jobs. Companies, after all, are not thirsty to employ just anybody.

manpower group singapore
Financial companies may be willing to hire but candidates have to measure up to their expectations / Image Credit: ManpowerGroup Singapore

And on this front, it’s still business as usual in recent months, with over 80 per cent of employers in most sectors reporting difficulty in finding the right people.

IT (79 per cent), finance (80 per cent), consumer goods (87 per cent) and services and manufacturing (81 per cent) are all concerned about the lack of sufficient talent to fill the positions they seek to fill.

But this is also good news for those qualified and looking for employment, as dearth of qualified workers means they are in a better bargaining position for every job offer on the market.

Salaries follow the trends

Speaking of money, it doesn’t come as a surprise that amid high demand for talent, companies are also willing to reward their current employees to keep them in place. After all, filling vacancies is even harder than finding fresh recruits.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: ManpowerGroup Singapore

A net 81 per cent of 510 companies surveyed reported salary increments (or plans to enact them) of at least three per cent, with 21 per cent pledging raises of over five per cent. In reality, their extent will depend on the pace of inflation while extra funds may be disbursed as bonuses, depending on company results.

And, indeed, there are plans for it as well, with close to 90 per cent of businesses giving away at least a month worth of bonuses, with 42 per cent offering more than that.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: Manpower Group

Interestingly, this generosity doesn’t entirely correlate with size, as it’s the small companies which are willing to reward their staff with 1.5 months of pay or more.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: Manpower Group

Singapore fourth in the world

If you thought, perhaps, that such a positive outlook is merely a part of a greater global sentiment, then you would be mistaken — the city-state ranks fourth in the world, behind only Canada among developed economies, and first in Asia.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: ManpowerGroup

The country also considerably outperformed everybody else in terms of year-on-year boost in hiring outlook, having jumped by nearly 20 per cent from Q1 2022 (though, of course, different economies opened up at different times, what may have affected this particular figure).

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: ManpowerGroup

Now is the time to change your job

Despite such positive sentiments, it’s hard not to see stormy clouds gathering on the horizon. Spirits may still be high in Singapore, but are already showing some erosion — much like is the case elsewhere.

manpower group singapore
Image Credit: Manpower Group

On a quarterly basis, the decrease of three percentage points is relatively small — particularly compared to some other locations — but it may also mean that a highly interconnected city-state like Singapore is simply much better diversified in terms of business it does, making it less vulnerable to sudden changes.

As some countries exhibit problems, others like China, may be reopening, bringing new opportunities.

Alas, if negative trends continue across the world, it’s only a matter of time before Singapore is affected.

So, if you’re planning to change your job or win a raise at your current one, now is the time to make the lunge for it because there’s no guarantee that the circumstances will remain as rosy a few months down the road.

Featured Image Credit: man64 / depositphotos

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