Close to half or 45% of the job openings in Singapore last year were for newly created positions.

This is an increase compared to the previous two years, and comes primarily from expansions into new functions, job restructuring and a redesign in firms.

Government initiatives supporting companies’ business transformation as well as digitalisation efforts could have also contributed to this increase.

These findings were highlighted in the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Jobs Vacancies 2020 report published on April 9. The results are based on the responses of 2.04 million employees who come from 14,480 establishments.

Of these new positions, the highest proportion came from the information & communications and financial & insurance services sectors.

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38% of the newly created roles in the two sectors were for software, web & multimedia developers, systems analysts and commercial & marketing sales executives. 

Interestingly, these roles were among the most sought after last year.

These vacancies require applicants to possess knowledge of programming languages such as Java, Python and C#, as well as common software development processes to understand, design, monitor and improve technical systems, MOM notes.

As such, employers were prepared to pay around $5,000 as a minimum, to attract candidates with the right skills for software, web & multimedia developers and systems analysts.

There was also a rise in hiring for analytics professionals such a – market research professionals, operations research analysts and data scientists – following the emergence of Big Data.

MOM attributes this to the growing emphasis for companies to fortify their digital infrastructure against threats. 

At 76%, most of the new job vacancies created last year were for permanent roles. 

However, the share of new fixed-term contract positions rose over the year from 18% to 24%, as sectors such as public administration & education and health & social services required temporary support for services such as testing and healthcare functions.

Meanwhile, about four in 10 or 35% of job vacancies involved work that could be done remotely. This comes as around half of the employers polled noted the tele-working arrangements was made available at their workplaces.

The possibility of remote working was stronger for positions seeking professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs) (57%), as compared to roles for non-PMETs.

The proportion of job vacancies that could be done remotely was the highest for managers & administrations (71%) as these roles mainly involved planning, directing and evaluation which are tasks not bound by a work location.

This was followed by professionals (62%), especially those in IT positions such as application/cybersecurity/systems programming, as well as jobs that chiefly involve research and analysis.

Interestingly, 71.5% of employers – of both PMETs and non-PMETs noted that academic qualifications were not the main consideration when recruiting (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Proportion (%) Of Job Vacancies For Which Academic Qualifications Were Not The Main Consideration

This is up 64.7% in 2019 and 68.1% in 2018, MOM reports.

Employers had instead deemed relevant skills/work experiences as a stronger factor in making their decision for it indicated if the candidate is able to perform the job more immediately.

Employers also pointed out that that while qualifications help candidates get the interview, what would get them the job is having the right skills and attitude.

Interestingly, 27% of job vacancies were unfilled for six months or more, down slightly from the previous year, MOM notes.

“This means that the job market has a certain level of efficiency, and we are able to match employers and jobseekers,” noted manpower minister Josephine Teo.

“The programmes we put in place have helped reduce the number of vacancies that remain unfilled for a long time,” she added.

The challenges faced by employers when filling PMET and non-PMET vacancies were different, signalling the need for targeted interventions to match jobseekers to available positions.

For PMET vacancies, employers pointed to the lack of necessary skills and work experience. Conversely, a mismatch in employment conditions was a common challenge faced by employers when filling non-PMET positions.

Going forward, MOM says that roles in healthcare, IT, business development and sales have remained in spite of the disruptions that the pandemic has brought on to the economy and the labour market.

For instance, positions for business development and sales – such as commercial & marketing sales executives and business development managers remain crucial for firms as they adapt to changes and seek out new opportunities.

Aside from having job-specific experience, these roles increasingly also require candidates to have technical skill sets such as knowledge of enterprise resource planning, customer relationship and data analytics software.

The healthcare sector meanwhile, is expected to expand beyond the pandemic given the growing healthcare needs of Singapore’s ageing population.

In line with this, public healthcare workers are slated to see an increase in their salaries as a way to attract and retain talent.

For comparison, demand for registered and enrolled nurses and healthcare assistants were ranked among the top 11 in terms of job vacancies.

Speaking about the job market on the whole, Teo stressed that there are challenges but also opportunities.

For jobseekers she noted that a willingness to re-skill will be increasingly necessary. Employers on the other hand would need to redesign non-PMET roles and reskill existing or new staff will also be increasingly necessary, said Teo.