AT A GLANCE

  • In 2013, Singapore overtook Tokyo to become the largest hub in Asia and third largest globally after London and New York
  • Through 2014, total employment increased by 129,000, and the labor force participation rate also rose for the third successive year
  • According to The Straits Time, the real median monthly income from Singaporeans working full-time increased 30% from $2,748 in 2009 to $3,566 in 2014

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Mar 01, 2015

Singapore: A Glance at the Talent Market

Singapore is a well-established financial hub for Asia, offering robust economic and financial opportunities in a socio-politically stable environment. The country’s high living standards, quality of life, and environment are often ranked among the most attractive for foreign-skilled professionals. Additionally, the government has taken action in recent years to establish Singapore as a global financial center, providing support, opportunities, and incentives for financial institutions to expand and grow their business in the country.

Singapore’s rapid rise as Asia’s largest center for both commodity and foreign exchange trading, along with its growth as a wealth management hub, has created a new competitive dynamic for Asia’s financial crown, particularly against Hong Kong. In 2013, Singapore overtook Tokyo to become the largest hub in Asia and third largest globally after London and New York. Financial services account for 12 percent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.

Employment Situation in Singapore

Singapore Employment, % by Major Industry

 Singapore Employment, % by Major Industry

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

Preliminary unemployment data for 2014 reveals that the overall unemployment rate (including foreign domestic workers) for the year was 2 percent. The unemployment rate was 2.7 percent for residents and 2.9 percent for citizens.

Singapore Unemployment Rate

Singapore Unemployment Rate

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

Through 2014, total employment increased by 129,000. The labor force participation rate also rose for the third successive year. 

Annual Employment Change, by Residential Status

Annual Employment Change, by Residential Status

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

Singaporeans and people with permanent residency status make up about two-thirds of the total workforce. Recently, Singapore has been making it more difficult for firms to hire low-cost foreign workers in attempts to reduce its dependence on overseas labor and address concerns by citizens worried about overcrowding and increased competition for jobs.

Singapore Labor Summary

Singapore Labor Summary

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

Salary and Job Trends in Singapore for 2015

A recent report released by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that the number of available jobs rose to 67,400, the highest level in six years. The Job Vacancy Survey by MOM shows that 47 percent of employers cite unattractive pay as the top obstacle when hiring Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. Along with low income, factors such as preference for a shorter work week, and a physically strenuous job nature contributed to the lack of locals joining the workforce. Additionally, skill shortages and competition for the limited pool of local candidates were also issues in recruiting for hard-to-fill positions.

Job Vacancies in 2014

Job Vacancies in 2014

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

The report from MOM states that the median monthly income in Singapore has increased since 2009, but that growth was moderate last year. According to The Straits Time, the real median monthly income from Singaporeans working full-time increased 30 percent from $2,748 in 2009 to $3,566 in 2014.

As companies continue to invest in digital strategies and IT, candidates with skills in online content, project delivery, mobile and application development, and user experience will be in demand.

Elance-oDesk, an online platform for hiring freelance talent, has a community of 30,000 businesses and 37,000 freelancers in Singapore, positioning the country as the top Asian market for hiring freelance talent online. In 2014, businesses in Singapore spent 46 percent more on hiring freelancers online as compared to 2013. 

Talent Acquisition in Singapore

In July 2014, the Singapore government took steps to connect hiring companies with job seekers by launching Jobs Bank, a free service that facilitates online job matching between registered companies and locals. The one-stop portal has 40 different job categories, including accounting, design, health care, and real estate. Additionally, the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) was set up in 2013 to prevent discriminatory hiring practices against Singaporeans.

A recent report by PageGroup, a leading recruitment services provider, states that 67 percent of employees in Singapore say that they are likely to leave their current role in 2015. And more than a third of professionals surveyed in the report viewed the current employment market with optimism.

“This optimism represents Singapore’s employment growth, however employers will need to implement strong retention strategies such as succession planning and financial incentives to hold on to their top performers and prevent high staff turnover.” ~Andrew Norton, Regional Managing Director for PageGroup South East Asia

Most respondents cited career progression as their number one reason for shifting jobs. The second biggest reason for wanting to change roles was an increase in salary.

Candidate Trends in Singapore

 Candidate Trends in Singapore

Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower

“The freelance economy will play a crucial role in overcoming the talent supply crunch and helping businesses improve their productivity. More than 30,000 businesses currently use our platform in Singapore – a number we predict will increase by 50% this year.” ~Rich Pearson, SVP of Categories and Geographies at Elance-oDesk

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