More than 1 in 3 employers expect to hire more in Q4 but 37% plan to cut hiring: Survey

SINGAPORE – More than one in three employers – 35 per cent – surveyed in July expect to hire more in the October to December period – mostly those in the finance, insurance and real estate industries, as well as manufacturing.

However, 37 per cent of the 519 surveyed expect to scale down hiring activity, while another 26 per cent do not anticipate any changes in hiring.

The weakest hiring outlook was reported by employers in the services sector, at minus 29 per cent. This was followed by the wholesale and retail (minus 20 per cent), and the mining and construction sectors (minus 19 per cent).

The survey results were released by recruitment agency ManpowerGroup on Tuesday (Sept 14).

Overall, the net employment outlook for the coming quarter is at 1 per cent, a far cry from the 15 per cent from July to September this year. Net employment outlook refers to the percentage of employers expecting to hire and, subtracting from this, the percentage expecting to see a decrease in employment.

The recent edition of the survey was conducted in late July, when Singapore returned to the phase two (heightened alert) stage after a brief phase three (heightened alert).

Ms Linda Teo, ManpowerGroup Singapore’s country manager, said employers are ready to recalibrate their hiring plans in the current situation that is volatile due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The quick return to phase two (heightened alert) plus surging Covid-19 infections in Singapore and globally may have prompted some employers to slow down and observe the situation further, hence the more subdued hiring outlook when compared to last quarter,” she added.

The survey also found that employers face challenges in hiring the talent they require.

Some 84 per cent of employers in Singapore reported difficulty in hiring due to a lack of skilled talent.

To help fill jobs, a significant proportion of organisations are investing in training, skills development and mentoring (47 per cent), and offering more flexible work schedules (42 per cent).

Other incentives to attract talent include more flexible working locations (34 per cent), joining bonuses (35 per cent) and pay increments (27 per cent).

Companies are also focusing on upskilling their current workforce to address their skill needs, with 50 per cent of organisations planning to invest in training existing employees in higher skilled roles in the coming months.

Some 35 per cent are prioritising the training of existing employees in lower skilled roles.

Ms Teo said it is encouraging to see that employers are investing in training and offering greater workplace flexibility to attract and retain talent.

This is aligned with what workers want, as the group’s research has shown for some time now, and “is the right way forward in the new future of work”, she added.