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Low pay, rather than a lack of skills, is causing Singaporeans to leave an increasing number of jobs vacant.
Almost half (47%) of employers in the country cited unattractive pay as the top obstacle encountered when hiring locals (Singaporean citizens and permanent residents) in the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) latest Job Vacancy Survey.
Job vacancies rose over the year to 67,400 in September 2014, an increase of 8.9% from 2013 – and the highest since 2009.
The report defined job vacancies as openings for which employers were actively recruiting employees from outside their establishments. These included new positions created due to business expansions or existing positions that were vacant because of staff turnover.
Almost seven out of 10 (67%) of such open positions were, however, deemed as “hard to fill by locals”, MOM said.
Along with low incomes, factors such as preference for a shorter workweek (39%), and a physically strenuous job nature (37%) contributed to the lack of locals joining the workforce.
Shift work (31%), lack of necessary work experience (17%), qualifications (7.5%) and specialised skills (4.1%) accompanied the list.
The report also broke down the reasons hindering local employment by profession, including professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and non-PMETs.
“Employers were more likely to indicate job-specific conditions pertaining to low pay, long workweek and physically strenuous (job nature) as key reasons for hard-to-fill non-PMET vacancies,” the report stated. “On the other hand, skills shortages e.g. lack of specialised experience and qualifications and competition for limited pool of local candidates were more pertinent to hard-to-fill PMET vacancies.”
MOM also revealed services accounted for four in five of all vacancies (or 49,860) in September 2014. The bulk of the vacancies came from community, social and personal services (13,040 or 21%), reflecting the expansion of childcare and pre-schools, healthcare and tertiary institutes.
Associate professionals and technicians were also in strong demand, with some 12,000 openings that required filling.
The opening of new shopping malls also led to robust hiring in wholesale and retail trade last year, including accommodation and food services, and administrative and support services.
Manufacturing contributed another 13% of the vacancies, while the remaining 5.7% came from construction.
“There were vacancies available for all educational levels, with more for both ends of the educational spectrum. Specifically, those requiring at least primary or lower (14,720 or 24%) and university degree qualifications (13,060 or 21%) were most in demand,” the report stated.
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