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Singapore’s jobs paradox




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Singapore’s job statistics for the first three months show a mismatch of skills and jobs. There are more people looking for jobs, but there are also jobs that many of these people can’t get because they don’t have the right skills.

Three recruitment agencies put flesh on these skeletal statistics for the The Independent Singapore.

Hays says Singapore received a talent mismatch index score of 5.9 in its latest Global Skills Index, falling behind Hong Kong (4.8). The Index examined the market for skilled labour in 40 countries.

Chris Mead, the regional director of Hays for Singapore and Malaysia, says: “This relatively high score means that the number of long-term unemployed and vacancies are both going up, suggesting the available labour does not have the skills employers want.

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“One of the reasons for this is the education system in Singapore.”

Singapore has low education flexibility (0.8), lagging behind Hong Kong (1.7), Japan (3.0) and China (1.3).

“A low score in education flexibility indicates there is considerable scope to expand the output and quality of the local education system,” he explains..

If this goes on, there will be a negative impact on “Singapore’s ability to match the skills of graduates with the skills needed in the economy,” he says.

“It’s quite a paradox as employers can’t find the qualified workers they need, they will look overseas so that workloads can be completed and if  Singapore employers are to remain competitive in the global business environment.”

Adrian Tan, managing director of RecruitPlus Consulting, highlights another concern.  “Many a time we do see Singaporeans candidates with the right skill sets but they fail at articulating those skill sets.”

No amount of high IQ or distinctions from your university modules can make up for bad social and interpersonal skills, he adds.


Mark Hall, vice president and Singapore’s manager of Kelly Services, says there are certain jobs that are in demand in Singapore and globally that require international experience. These are in areas such as risk and compliance, financial crime and money laundering.

Hall remarks:  “We are now witnessing a trend of Singaporeans going abroad for internships or participating in overseas volunteer programmes. The experience gained from internships and volunteer activities can add a different dimension to workplace credentials.”

He adds that younger Singapore professionals are also pursuing degrees in highly specialised fields like retail logistics, human resource management with psychology, marine science and aquaculture “to meet the demands of the evolving employment landscape.”

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