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Tight labour market continues to push up number of job vacancies

The tight Singapore labour market continues to push up the number of job vacancies. The latest Manpower Ministry figures show that vacancies stood at 61,900 in September 2013 -- 9.7 per cent more than a year before.

SINGAPORE: Singapore's tight labour market continues to see a rise in the number of job openings.

The latest figures from the Manpower Ministry show there were 61,900 vacancies in September 2013. This is 9.7 per cent more than a year before.

Consistent with prevailing trends, the services sector continued to generate the bulk of job openings, representing four out of five of all vacancies last year.

Service and sales workers are needed for 14,530 job openings in various positions including shop assistants, waiters and security guards.

These jobs formed a quarter of total vacancies in the sector, compared to professionals, which formed just 14 per cent, or 8,090 openings.

Positions for cleaners, labourers and related workers numbered 8,250. This made up 14 per cent of all openings.

Managers and administrators accounted for half of that percentage.

Vacancies for associate professionals and technicians numbered 9,550, or 17 per cent of all openings.

Overall, there were openings across all occupational groups.

Of all job openings, three in five were vacant for less than half a year, with the rest of the vacancies unfilled for extended periods of six months or more.

By industry, manufacturing's share of vacancies remained broadly similar over the year at 13 per cent.

Vacancies in construction bucked the overall trend, decreasing from 7.5 per cent in 2012, to 6.4 per cent in 2013.

Dr Tan Khay Boon, senior lecturer at SIM Global Education, said: "Although the increase in foreign labour has been moderated, the bulk of the increased quota is still being allocated to the construction sector. Relatively-speaking, it's easier for the construction firms to fill up the vacancies."

Some economists view the continuing need for more manpower as a sign of companies still adjusting to productivity-driven growth.

This means their preference is skewed towards hiring more people to get the job done rather than innovation through technology.

Zainudin Nordin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower, said: "The hunger for manpower will never stop because we are living in a country that's continuously developing.

"We need to pace ourselves and at the same time ensure that whatever balancing act that we need to do in the manpower supply, need to be taken care of in a more judicious and balanced manner.

"It's not about shutting out totally. It's about finding the correct balance. I know it's a challenging task, but we need to do this together."

The proportion of openings which had difficulty finding locals to fill were unchanged from a year ago -- at 66 per cent.

Employers cited unattractive pay and physically demanding tasks as the key reasons for residents not wanting to fill many lower-skilled occupations.

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