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Hiring outlook in Singapore weakens for 2nd quarter in a row: Survey

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Hiring outlook in Singapore weakens for 2nd quarter in a row: Survey​

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The poll of 525 employers in nine sectors on their hiring plans in the second quarter found a 5 percentage point drop in net employment outlook. ST PHOTO: HENG YI-HSIN
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Tay Hong Yi
UPDATED

MAR 12, 2024, 09:53 PM

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SINGAPORE – Hiring sentiments in Singapore declined for a second consecutive quarter, driven by a sharp rise in employer pessimism in communication services, which include telecommunications and the media.
However, improved net employment outlooks in the finance and real estate sector, as well as the energy and utilities sector, helped cushion the drop, according to the latest results from recruitment firm ManpowerGroup’s quarterly employment outlook survey released on March 12.
Net employment outlook is a measure of hiring optimism, defined as the percentage of companies surveyed that intend to take on new staff, minus the percentage that intend to downsize.

Employers in the communication services sector reported a net employment outlook of negative 29 per cent, which means more firms polled from the sector intend to downsize than expand their headcount.
It is the only one of the nine sectors surveyed with a negative outlook in the latest results. The figure is down 72 percentage points from the previous quarter and 88 percentage points from the same time in 2023.
ManpowerGroup’s January poll of 525 employers in nine sectors on their hiring plans in the quarter ahead – the second quarter of 2024 – found net employment outlook to be 24 per cent overall. The survey also polled 41 other markets.



The 24 per cent is down 5 percentage points from the previous quarter’s net employment outlook, which was itself 7 percentage points lower compared with the quarter before that. The latest figure is also a drop of 3 percentage points from that of the same period in 2023.

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For the second quarter of 2024, 41 per cent of employers polled expected headcount to grow, 17 per cent anticipated a decrease and 42 per cent reported no plans to change their headcount.
The proportion of those which expected a decrease in headcount is higher than the 15 per cent in the previous quarter.
Employers in finance and real estate were the most optimistic, with net employment outlook at 45 per cent.

Also anticipating healthy headcount growth are the employers in healthcare and life sciences, which posted a net employment outlook of 36 per cent, and those in energy and utilities, at 33 per cent, the firm noted.
Hiring sentiment improved the most in the energy and utilities sector compared with the previous quarter, growing by 22 percentage points, the firm added.
“Banking and finance companies are seeing a boom in demand for sustainable financing as more businesses take on sustainable loans to support their green transformation,” said Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.
“With Singapore being a leading hub for green finance and carbon trading in Asia and globally, banking and finance companies are actively recruiting talent with environmental, social and corporate governance expertise and qualifications to support their growth in this area.”


Meanwhile, Ms Teo chalked the robust improvement in hiring outlook in the energy and utilities sector up to jobs growth in the renewable energy industry, with growing investment in developing clean energy and in transitioning to use it.
“The recent news of the setting up of the Future Energy Fund will also likely further boost hiring activity within the renewable energy cluster in anticipation of more business opportunities ahead,” she added.
Announced in the 2024 Budget, the fund will be set up by the end of 2024 to help build the critical infrastructure needed for Singapore’s shift to low-carbon electricity with an initial injection of $5 billion.
Organisations of all sizes, except micro-organisations employing fewer than 10 people, anticipated headcount growth.
The survey grouped employers into six sizes, ranging from those with fewer than 10 employees to those with 5,000 or more staff.
Very large organisations with between 1,000 and 4,999 employees recorded the strongest outlook of 44 per cent, while micro-organisations reported a negative 8 per cent outlook.
 
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