Jobseekers’ woes may well continue into the last quarter of the year with the hiring pace in Singapore expected to be cautious.

This was reflected in the results of the Employment Outlook Survey released by global recruitment firm ManpowerGroup on Sep 13.

Of the 519 employers interviewed, 37% are looking at a decrease in payrolls in 4Q2021. This implies a decrease in hiring activity and not retrenchment, explains ManpowerGroup.

Meanwhile, 35% of the respondents are expecting an increase in payrolls while 26% are not anticipating any changes.

This translates to a net employment outlook of +1% in 4Q2021. For comparison, the metric came in at +15% in 3Q2021.

Employers in Singapore have “the most cautious hiring plans” compared to those in the other Asia Pacific countries.

See also: A merrier hiring outlook expected in Singapore in 1Q2021: ManpowerGroup survey

“The quick return to Phase 2 (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,” explains Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.

While the survey was conducted when Singapore returned to the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) stage in July, Teo notes that the hiring outlook here remains relatively stable with more employers looking to increase staffing levels.

She adds that “employers remain cautious with their hiring and are ready to re-calibrate their hiring plans in the current volatile situation”.

Two sectors in particular are slated to see healthy payroll gains in 4Q2021. These are the finance, insurance & real estate sector where the outlook is +26%, as well as the manufacturing sector which reported an outlook of +1%.

On the flip side, the weakest hiring outlook was reported by employers in services (-29%), wholesale & retail (-20%) and mining and construction (-19%).

Even as employers remain cautious in hiring, many say they are struggling to hire talent.

Singapore’s talent shortage level remains at a 15-year high with 84% of employers here reporting difficulties in hiring due to the lack of skilled talent.

As such, a significant number of companies have been investing in training, skills development and mentoring opportunities. Others have been offering flexible working schedules and locations, joining bonuses and pay increments to attract talent.

In a bid to retain talent, companies have taken on initiatives to upskill their employees to address their skill needs.

50% of organisations have plans to train their current staff in higher skilled roles, while 35% are priortising training staff in lower skilled positions, ManpowerGroup’s survey highlights.

To Teo, “this is an encouraging development as our research has been indicating for some time now that this aligns with what workers have been wanting and is the right way forward in the new future of work”.

Cover image: file photo