The Singapore job market displays signs of resilience and growth as the world grapples with faltering economies and recessions. That was not the case last year, as there were many reports of mass layoffs, with companies like SEA Limited affected. Statista Research notes that recruitment trends (between 2023 and 2024) show the number of employees in the city-state will increase by 0.26% (about 0.01 million people) to 3.83 million people.
Leading talent platform foundit released its Insights Tracker survey for July 2023, and the research shows that over the past year, the hospitality, travel, and real estate sectors recorded an 8% increase in recruitment, while the healthcare field rose by 5%. The country’s annual hiring activity dipped by 14%, with the index going down from 139 in July 2022 to 120 in July 2023.
Is the demand for tech jobs in Southeast Asia increasing or slowing down in 2023?
Three out of 15 sectors saw hiring growth between July 2022 and July 2023; Import/Export went up by 2%, whereas Oil & Gas, Retail & Trade, and Logistics had a 0% change in job demand compared to the previous year. The industries with declining hiring trends included IT & Telecom and Production & Manufacturing, which decreased by 20% or more. Job opportunities were lower in Shipping & Marine by 2%, Hospitality and Healthcare by 3%, Consumer Goods by 5%, Engineering, Construction and Real Estate by 6%, and Education by 14%.
Singaporean industries with increased hiring activities
Hospitality & travel
According to foundit CEO Sekhar Garisa, Singapore is an international hub for hospitality and tourism. As such, the city-state can attract visitors and businesses, increasing the demand for new employees. There is also a recovery in air travel and inbound tourism, which will boost the industry.
Hiring activity in Singapore’s real estate market is due to the fear of missing out (FOMO). The public was worried when it saw the soaring prices of residential property and the apprehension that the costs would rise further. Thus, the increase in home purchases has raised the demand for real estate professionals.
Due to Singapore’s digitalisation push, new technologies and innovations are available in the healthcare industry. As such, there is an increase in recruiting healthcare professionals. The hope is that new staff will be familiar with technologies like blockchain to securely and accurately store medical records. Other opportunities exist, such as using artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.
Labour market outlook in the coming months
According to LinkedIn’s Jobs on the Rise report, recruitment trends show that work that enables companies to digitise is growing. As such, the most in-demand talent are specialists, technical workers, and healthcare experts. Moreover, businesses are removing the remote-work option from their hiring offers, and employment vacancy postings with out-of-office benefits dropped from 7.8% in December 2021 to 4.1% in December 2022.
The Singapore job market remains a hub for tech companies who want to expand to Southeast Asia and other APAC markets. The city-state is in an ideal geographical location compared to the rest of the region. Plus, it has made digital transformation, building tech infrastructure, and startup ecosystem development a crucial part of its policies.
Pooja Chhabria, career expert and head of editorial for Asia-Pacific at LinkedIn, said it is likely that Singapore would dominate in tech jobs and has built a strong presence as a startup destination. Additionally, the growth of AI, cybersecurity, and digitalisation means more technical jobs will be available in the future.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MoM) cautioned that the labour market will continue to face many challenges. For example, many regions have global economic uncertainties such as recession, inflation, reduced export/import, and tighter financial conditions. There is also a risk of further escalations in the war in Ukraine and continued geopolitical tensions between the United States and China. These conflicts affect supply chains, hindering international trade and limiting the possibility of hiring foreign workers who can provide value to emerging companies.
Additionally, the country is up against a new COVID-19 subvariant nicknamed Eris by citizens. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the WHO (World Health Organisation) did not believe the new variant had “contributed to any significant increase in cases, disease severity, or deaths as compared to other circulating strains.” Only 18% of the COVID community cases detected belonged to Eris.
Nevertheless, the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 has yet to be forgotten in Singapore, meaning everyone will be wary of the new variant. Previous lockdowns and movement restrictions affected many businesses and cost many workers their jobs. Therefore, government officials and employers must monitor the current recruitment trends, manage the labour force well, and be better prepared to adapt their work environment to handle the health challenges presented.