Smaller Pool of Job Hunters Spells Trouble for SG Employers

Image credit: iStockphoto/sigoisette

It’s not looking good for Singapore employers.

Already facing a talent crunch in critical areas like data analytics and mounting hurdles for employing foreign talent, Singapore employers now face another challenge in hiring local talent. Their prospective employees are not looking for them.

According to the NTUC LearningHub survey “Emerging Jobs and Skills Report”, 65% of employers are looking to augment their workforce this year.

While this is good news for employees, especially when only 56% of employers searched for talent last year, employers are not finding talent quickly. The survey showed that 78% found it challenging to fill the job roles. The apparent reason is a lack of talent with relevant skillsets.

But that’s only half the story. The same survey highlighted another not-so-apparent reason: only 10% of potential employees are actively looking for a new job. While 60% of employees said they’re open for a move, they are not searching for one. And the remaining 30% are not looking for a new job at all, preferring to keep to their current roles.

This high level of job satisfaction and reluctance to move means that Singapore employers face a double whammy: a shortage of talent and a disinterested employee base.

The survey did not go into why this was the case. But it did show that the lack of interest in new jobs varies across industries. It also revealed that those industries that are most starved for talent have the most employees who are uninterested in moving.

For example, employees working in essential domestic services (which groups healthcare and education sectors into one) are least likely to look for a new job. Only 6% are actively looking. In the U.S., this is the opposite, where the churn in teachers and healthcare workers is very high, although most are leaving their jobs to switch industries or take a break.

The same can be said for manufacturing (7% actively looking for a job) and modern services (10%). The former industry includes energy and chemicals, and the latter represents professional services, financial services, and ICT & Media.

The above industries are also where the talent crunch is felt the hardest. According to the survey, modern services faces an 87% talent crunch (jobs vacant), manufacturing (83%) and essential domestic Services (80%).

When asked why the reluctance to move, employees cited these top three reasons: “being satisfied with the current role” (60%), “satisfaction with the current pay” (33%), and “current company provides job security” (24%).

For NTUC LearningHub's Anthony Chew, director of ICT, the answer to closing the skills gap lies with upskilling.

“To plug the skills chasm, companies could benefit from upskilling both existing and new employees to boost their workforce competencies and meet business objectives. NTUC LearningHub has been working closely with companies to curate outcome-focused training to place employees with the latest industry-relevant skillset in their companies,” said Chew.

The organization works with employers and NTUC’s e2i program through “train and place” and “place and train” programs. They match vacant or new jobs with mid-career switchers who have reskilled through the programs or help new hires undergo targeted classroom training and on-the-job training.

“Through these programs, companies can also tap on various training resources, government funding and support schemes. We urge employers who are facing talent shortages to work with us and leverage these programs to cast a wider net for qualified candidates.”

Based on the survey, Singapore employers don't seem to have any choice.

Image credit: iStockphoto/sigoisette