Some companies still hiring even as retrenchments rise by about 10% amid COVID-19 pandemic

Some companies still hiring even as retrenchments rise by about 10% amid COVID-19 pandemic

spic n span disinfect
Cleaning company Spic & Span wants to expand its workforce by 20 per cent. It is offering five full-time positions and 15 traineeships under the SGUnited jobs programmes. (Photo: Benjamin Chua).

SINGAPORE: As employers across the country shed workers or put them on furlough due to labour market conditions, a few others are continuing to look for employees and trainees. 

According to Workforce Singapore (WSG), there were 13,000 SGUnited job vacancies with 11,000 applicants as of Apr 19. 

Most of the roles under the SGUnited Jobs initiative are temporary gigs created during the COVID-19 period.

Jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, social service, as well as retail positions in supermarkets are offered through the initiative, said WSG chief executive Tan Choon Shian. 

Another 4,000 traineeships are in the works under the S$100 million SGUnited Traineeships Programme - an internship-like scheme for fresh graduates - launching on Jun 1, he said.

READ: Local universities announce initiatives for financial aid, jobs for graduating students

A search on the Government-run jobs portal mycareersfuture.sg also found about 18,000 job postings online.

These companies with openings to fill have bucked the ongoing trend of layoffs and hiring freezes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Q1 labour market figures better than expected, but real storm is still ahead, economists say

Mr Tan, who leads a taskforce on Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, said on Wednesday (Apr 30) that his team has received about 10 per cent more retrenchment notifications in 2020 so far, compared to the same period last year. 

He did not give an exact number.

Under labour laws, local companies with at least 10 employees must inform the manpower ministry if they are looking to let go of workers.

While retrenchment figures in the manufacturing and construction sectors were similar to previous years, there were more layoffs in the services sector, particularly domestic-facing ones like food and beverage and tourism, Mr Tan said. 

At the same time, a report conducted by professional services firm Aon in April found that 4 per cent of the 196 organisations surveyed have reported layoffs, while another 21 per cent are considering letting people go. 

Similarly, 8 per cent of the companies have furloughed employees and 21 per cent are looking to do so, the study showed. And about a fifth of them are delaying or cancelling salary increments and 30 per cent have frozen hiring. 

Layoffs will be seen across multiple sectors, from transportation to energy-related ones, analysts told CNA.

READ: Singapore's total employment plunges in Q1, sharpest drop since SARS

On the other hand, the healthcare, public administration, professional services and technology sectors will remain resilient during this crisis, the economists said. 

Local packaging firm Container Printers is one company that has been actively looking for people to join its team of 244 employees via the SGUnited Jobs initiative. 

Its chief executive Amy Chung said the firm is looking to fill 15 information technology (IT), quality assurance, production and operations openings. 

But responses have been “far and few”, she said. She hopes more applications will come through in the coming months.

The company will also open up five traineeships to university graduates in the areas of automation, IT and quality assurance, she added. 

And Container Printers plans to convert all of these temporary stints under the SGUnited jobs schemes to permanent ones. 

The company has continued to operate as it is part of the "essential global supply chain", Ms Chung said, explaining that it provides services to nutrition, healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical companies.

READ: COVID-19 Budget: Self-employed people, firms, first-time jobseekers to receive more support

Singtel is another company that has supplemented its workforce via the SGUnited Jobs initiative. 

The telecommunications giant hired 150 people to take on frontline jobs such as manning hotlines and processing office work within about a week, said its group chief human resource officer Aileen Tan.

These roles needed to be filled urgently as some of Singtel's offshore centres were impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, she said. 

Singtel is looking to bring on board 600 trainees in roles such as engineering and marketing. Some of these roles, Ms Tan said, could potentially be converted into full-time ones. These traineeships will last between four and 12 months.

Aside from the SGUnited programmes, Singtel expects to recruit more than 300 fresh graduates this year, she said. 

Its management associate programme intake will also increase to 60 this year - up 30 per cent from the previous year, Ms Tan added. 

This is to “fill critical roles in new growth areas” including the Internet of Things, analytics and cloud technology. 

Another company tapping on both SGUnited programmes is Spic & Span, a cleaning services provider. 

The social enterprise, which has around 100 employees, wants to hire five managers who will supervise teams of cleaners at a minimum of S$3,000 a month, said its founder Benjamin Chua. 

They will be offered one-year contracts, but Mr Chua hopes to keep them as permanent employees eventually. 

He is looking for another 15 fresh graduates under the traineeship programme, who will be put in quality assurance and business development roles, he said. Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnic and university graduates will be paid S$1,500, S$1,800 and S$2,500 respectively. 

The number of clients has gone up as more offices and condominiums want to disinfect and apply protective coatings around their premises and common areas before “circuit breaker” restrictions are lifted, he said. 

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Source: CNA/rp(ac)

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