Hiring sentiment in Singapore remained cautious throughout 2016, and this hesitation to increase headcount is likely to continue well into 2017.
According to the latest MEI round up for 2016 released by Monster.com, 2016 ended on a rather flat recruitment note, indicating a trend that will extend into the first half of 2017.
The monthly Monster Employment Index (MEI) is a gauge of online job posting activities, recording the industries and occupations showing the highest and lowest growth in recruitment activity.
2016 was a mixed bag for job seekers in Singapore. After kicking off with a negative growth of -2% year-on-year in January 2016, Q1 rounded out with a registered growth of 3% year-on-year in March. However, this slight peak was short lived, as subsequent months saw a dip, once again in April (-3% y-o-y) and May (-5% y-o-y).
June registered a 2% annual increase, but growth eventually stalled in Singapore with the MEI registering zero growth for two consecutive months.
This sentiment further plummeted to -2% in November, before closing the year on a positive, where the MEI recorded a 1% growth annually.
“Singapore’s economy remains cloudy, given the host of global socio-economic issues,” said Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, Monster.com – APAC and Middle East.
“The job market too will remain challenging, with employment growth likely to stay sluggish amid a weak economic outlook. While the MEI showed slight progress in December with a recorded 1% growth, most companies will tread with caution as the year progresses.”
Modi noted that the city-state’s small trade-dependent economy has been going through a cyclical downturn and may not pick up too well in the coming months.
Growth across the region has been slow and there still persists a sense of uncertainty concerning US policies and China’s economy slowing further.
“We’ve seen some positive signs since the jump in industrial production in November, which has helped reinforce growth in the final quarter of 2016,” he said.
Modi said Singapore’s workforce is diverse, technology savvy and young, but the challenge remains for the government to focus on technology and talent to create more lucrative opportunities.
“Employers will closely observe market conditions and are expected to adjust their staff levels accordingly. We are hoping that the upcoming Budget 2017 may be able to turn things around and bring in some relief to the local job market.”
IT sector emerges strong amid weak global outlook
The IT sector has performed consistently well in 2016, when compared to other sectors in Singapore. The MEI recorded growth in online hiring since January 2016 (2%) and recorded the sharpest jump in July and August (14%).
IT continues to lead in online hiring activity among all industry sectors since June 2016 till December (14%). This was also the steepest annual growth since September 2016. There has been a 2% growth in the last six-months (between June and December 2016).
BFSI weakened hiring intentions In 2016
Singapore's banking sector outlook for 2017 remains negative, as the overall sector outlook on Asia Pacific banks has become increasingly negative.
Popularly known as SEA’s banking hub, the BFSI sector has traditionally been one of the most thriving sectors of the country, but 2016 has been a rather slow year for the sector in terms of growth in employment.
March recorded the steepest rise in online hiring activity, with a 7% year-on-year growth. Online hiring saw the sharpest decline in September and November recording -11% decline year-on-year. The average annual decline for the sector was -5% year-on-year.
Hiring sentiment for advertising and marketing likely to remain weak in 2017
The demand for marketing and advertising professionals has declined considerably in the last year. With companies moving towards automation and running in-house creative teams, jobs within marketing and advertising agencies are likely to decline further.
2016 has been a sluggish year for the marketing and advertising sector in terms of growth in employment, where the sector faced 12 consecutive declines in the last 12 months.
As per Singapore’s MEI, the average annual decline for the sector was 5%, seeing the steepest decline in January, at -10% year-on-year. In line with overall online recruitment activity in Singapore, the pace of decline in Q4 2016 saw a slowdown in hiring activity.
As of December 2016, the sector witnessed a -3% year-on-year decline in hiring activity.
Muted online hiring sentiment across HR and admin roles In 2016
Hiring sentiment for HR and Admin roles have remained sluggish over the last 12 months in the country.
Online hiring activity reported a decline starting January (-4%) and recorded the steepest dip in February (-29% y-o-y). As for December, the sector witnessed a -9% year-on-year decline in hiring activity.