SINGAPORE: Marketing and sales executives, as well as various IT roles, were among the top 10 jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) that were in demand by employers in 2021, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) job vacancies report released on Friday (Apr 1).
Among non-PMET job openings, construction labourers were most in demand in 2021 as restrictions on the entry of migrant workers resulted in manpower shortages, but this is expected to ease as Singapore's borders reopen.
MOM also expects consumer-facing industries to face "persistent strain" on the manpower front, with the easing of social gathering measures. Reflecting that, the second top non-PMET job opening was for shop sales assistants.
The detailed report on job vacancies, released annually, was based on a survey conducted in September 2021.
Earlier figures have shown that the number of job vacancies reached an all-time high in 2021 as Singapore continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Job vacancies reached 104,200 last September when the survey was done, compared to 53,300 in September 2020. The number increased to 114,000 in December.
The annual average ratio of vacancies to unemployed people was the highest in a decade at 1.68.
MOM said that newly created positions made up 44 per cent of all job vacancies in 2021. The proportion of vacancies for new positions was higher in growth industries such as information & communications, financial & insurance services and professional services.
Comparatively, more jobs in service or production, such as manufacturing, food & beverage and accommodation, were replacements for existing roles.
JOBS IN DEMAND
Information technology and multimedia development roles such as software, web & multimedia developers and systems analysts remained "highly sought-after jobs", said the MOM report.
Engineering professionals and technicians were also highly in demand, including electronics engineers and civil engineering technicians, said MOM.
There was a "stable and large pool of job openings" for business development and sales, such as commercial & marketing sales executives and business development managers.
"These roles remain crucial as firms adapt to changes and seek out new business opportunities," said the MOM report.
There was also a modest rise in demand for administration professionals such as management & business consultants and human resource consultants.
Among non-PMET job openings, other than construction labourers and sales assistants, cleaners and security guards were common unfilled jobs.
Waiters remain "highly in demand", while the rise in e-commerce has led to a "nascent demand" for drivers of lorries, vans and light goods vehicles, said MOM.
WHY NO TAKERS?
For non-PMET positions, reasons for not taking up the jobs include the physically strenuous job nature, unattractive pay and poor working conditions.
"We are hopeful that many employers can still successfully fill vacancies by expanding the resident workforce," said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng.
This is despite the border reopening, which would likely see the entry of more foreign workers.
Dr Tan asked employers in the services sector to tap government schemes such as the Services Industry Transformation Programme and the Jobs Growth Incentive to redesign jobs and hire more locals.
"I don't think we can go back to the old way of doing things without considering how to continue to innovate, how to continue to digitalise and how to continue to use tech for some of the jobs to improve the productivity," said the minister.
For PMETs, employers indicated a shortage of candidates with the necessary skills and work experience, in particular for positions where incumbents rely on specialised technical knowledge, as well as increased competition from other employers.
"With the economy picking up, we hope that employers can put in ... more resources in training, upskilling available manpower for longer-term needs," said Dr Tan.
"I would exhort all employers to try to accord more resources to do this in terms of upskilling, and ... for prospective employers to adopt a plug, train and play mindset when hiring."
With a tighter labour market, the proportion of job vacancies unfilled for six months or more increased to 35 per cent in 2021, from 27 per cent in 2020. Before this, the proportion had been on a broad downtrend from 2014, said MOM.
There was a slight decline in the share of vacancies that involved work that could be done remotely, from 35 per cent to 31 per cent. This reflected the higher proportion of vacancies from industries and occupations where remote work was not prevalent, such as in construction or production.
At the same time, with the resumption of workplace activities, fewer employers offered remote work options for
occupations that usually require face-to-face interactions.