SINGAPORE: About four in 10 job vacancies in 2020 were related to work that could be done remotely and these were mainly PMET jobs, said a Ministry of Manpower report released on Friday (Apr 9).
This is the first time the figure is being tracked in the annual Job Vacancies Report, which analyses the type of job openings in Singapore and the jobs that are in demand.
The report said that with more companies adopting flexible work arrangements, job openings mirrored this trend, and 35 per cent of vacancies last year involved work that could be done remotely.
Mr Ang Boon Heng, director of the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, said that the ministry decided to start tracking this number after widespread implementation of flexible work arrangements due to COVID-19.
"As such, we have decided to track this statistic, to better track and understand any potential shifts in work arrangements," he said.
Commenting on the report, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that COVID-19 has demonstrated the possibility for many kinds of tasks to be performed effectively anywhere, and this is a trend that will continue to evolve.
"It will be ... in the next couple of years, a fast-evolving picture - companies will continue to try out different combinations," she said on Thursday after a visit to Eurasia F&B's production facility in Tuas.
"I think we will have to continue to watch and see how the trends develop."
The remote work opportunities were overwhelmingly for PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) positions (57 per cent), with only 6 per cent of non-PMET positions suitable for remote work, said employers.
The proportion of job vacancies that can be done remotely was the highest for managers and administrators at 71 per cent. This is because jobs in this group, such as business development managers and administration managers, engage in tasks not bounded by work location, said the report.
Other jobs that can be done remotely include those for IT professionals, and research and analysis positions such as policy or financial analysts. Many non-PMET jobs, however, need the workers to be onsite, including retail assistants, waiters and construction labourers.'
45% NEWLY CREATED POSITIONS
Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more job openings in 2020 were newly created positions. The report found 45 per cent of jobs were new positions instead of replacements.
"These vacancies have opened up because of business expansion, restructuring and job redesign," said Mrs Teo.
"This suggests that the pace of business transformation and restructuring was sustained even though 2020 was a year of great turmoil for businesses."
Two sectors - Information & Communications and Financial & Insurance Services - had the highest proportion of job vacancies for newly created positions. Many of these (38 per cent) were for IT professionals and commercial and marketing sales executives.
The survey also found that, as in previous years, IT developers and healthcare professionals were in high demand, and this was exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak.
IT development roles such as software, web & multimedia developers and systems analysts were the most sought after in 2020, and their demand has risen in the recent five years.
There has also been a rise in hiring for analytics professionals with the emergence of big data, and for cybersecurity professionals with a rise in awareness of cyber threats.
Firms are also looking for business development and sales executives as they adapt to changes and seek out new business opportunities amid the pandemic.
Mrs Teo said that these are challenges but also opportunities: "For jobseekers, a willingness to reskill will be increasingly necessary. For employers, a willingness to redesign non-PMET roles and reskill existing or new staff will also be increasingly necessary."
The report said that demand remains robust for nurses and healthcare assistants. The post of medical & pathology laboratory technician also saw significant growth in job vacancies over the last five years, following the need for prompt and accurate clinical testing.
Non-PMET vacancies were commonly for cleaners and security guards, as businesses increased the frequency of cleaning and had to enforce safe distancing measures.
The findings from the report are based on a survey carried out in September 2020. A total of 14,480 establishments employing more than 2 million employees responded to the survey.
MOM said that as the 2020 survey was conducted at a time when Singapore was gradually recovering from the impact of the coronavirus, the findings were influenced by the pandemic.