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Foreigners account for total employment decline

MOM figures show that foreigners account for almost 9 out of 10 of the total employment contraction for the first three quarters of this year

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Singapore—The latest labour market report from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that foreigners composed almost nine out of ten of the total employment contraction for the first three quarters of this year.

This figure excludes foreign domestic workers, however. Moreover, things are looking up for resident employment, which the report says has experienced a “strong rebound.”

That the vast majority of total employment contortion involved foreign workers was the key observation from the report, which affirmed an earlier assessment made in the Labour Market Advance Release that signs of improvement can be seen in the third quarter of 2020.

MOM’s labour market report, published on Thursday, Dec 17, showed that while Singapore’s total number of employed persons still fell in the third quarter of the year, but it occurred at a markedly slower place.

Employment for residents has risen to levels close to what they were before the pandemic, at 2.34 million people employed.

MOM said that this “strong rebound in resident employment” in the third quarter “offset most of the declines we saw in the first two quarters of the year.”

The report, released by MOM’s Research and Statistics Department, said that the rebound in the employment of Singaporean residents is a reflection of the strong support measures for local employment, which include the Jobs Support Scheme and programmes under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

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The third quarter of 2020 did not bring good tidings for non-residents, however, whose employment declined in this period at an even swifter pace than in the first and second quarters of the year.

MOM’s labour market report also outlined other indicators that showed an uptick on labour market activity, including:

“Significantly fewer” workers being placed on short workweek or temporary layoff in the third quarter of the year (34,240) compared to the previous quarter (81,720).

A rise in average paid hours worked from 43.4 hours per week in June 2020 to 43.8 hours in September 2020, which the report says is indicative of more overtime hours served.

An increase in job vacancies for the first time in 2020, to 49,600 in September of this year. This has resulted in an improvement in Singapore’s job vacancy to unemployed ratio, from 0.60 to 0.57 from the second quarter to the third quarter.

In the conclusion of the report, it was warned that the “ labour market recovery may remain protracted beyond the immediate rebound.” However, the National Jobs Council will continue to concentrate on matching local jobseekers to available openings, as well as provide re-skilling as needed. Almost 60,000 locals had been matched with jobs by the end of October.

Another boost to local employment has been the S$1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive that provides up to 50 per cent salary support for eligible new local hires from September 2020 to February 2021.

Finally, it will be much more convenient for jobseekers since Workforce Singapore (WSG) set up the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres in all HDB towns as well as deployed the mobile Careers Connect On-the-Go (CCOTG) to bring career coaching services close to where people are. Sites such as MyCareersFuture.gov.sg also provide resources to aid jobseekers. —/TISG

Read also: SM Tharman: Jobs will remain challenge over the next year and possibly longer

SM Tharman: Jobs will remain challenge over the next year and possibly longer

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