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High demand for IT Jobs despite signs of slow-down

Singapore Employees

Quarter 2 (April to June) unemployment statistics were published. Although the numbers are pretty good given the global financial instability, there are worse than previous quarters:

  • Job layoffs hit a seven year high rising to 5,500 redundancies. Most of the layoffs are from Services.
  • As a result, unemployment rate rose slightly to 2.1%

On a related note, the Ministry of Manpower will raise the minimum salary for foreign professionals seeking employment pass to S$3,600 from S$3,300 currently. The new qualifying monthly salary for employment passes will take effect on 1/1/2017.

However, the demand for Information Technology and Finance jobs remains high. According to the latest report from Randstad Singapore Technologies, Cyber Security professionals are in high demand in Singapore. The report also lists other technology jobs in high demand: Project Management/Business Analysts, App Developers, DevOps (Development and Operations), Embedded Systems Developers, Mobile Computing Developers, Data Scientists and Analysts, Cloud Specialists/Engineers, and UI/UX Designers

Does Brexit affect Singapore?


The British people have voted to leave the European Union. What does it mean for the Singapore economy and employment? Well, although uncertainty is never good for economy and employment, it is difficult to see how the Euroscepticism of Britain will have a negative impact on Singapore.

  • Radical changes will not happen overnight. It will take some time before the terms of Brexit are agreed between UK and EU. It will take even longer for the Brexit agreement to be implemented fully.

  • Great Britain is the 22nd trading partner of Singapore amounting for 1% to 2% of Singapore exports and imports respectively.

  • Our FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with EU is pending approval somewhere in Brussels. With Britain away from Brussels bureaucracy, it may be faster to strike an FTA with them.

  • In the long run, a non Euro-centric Britain may be beneficial to Singaporeans in a number of areas. I will just mention a couple: University tuition fees may be rationalized if there are uniform for all non-British students; UK will be free to get a global view to foreign talent and, thus, it may be easier for Asian professionals to get an employment visa.

The next few years following Brexit may be uncertain. However, a truly global Britain will provide new opportunities for Singapore.

No additional measures to slow down influx of foreign talent

Singapore at night

PM Lee stated recently that he does not expect any further major measures to tighten the number of foreign worker employed in Singapore.

In the past, several Singaporeans felt that the influx of skilled and unskilled foreign workers was one of the reasons for high home prices, overcrowding and pressure on salaries for low end jobs. On the other hand, tightening the availability of foreign talent on a tight job market does not help: The cost of business goes up and this may affect foreign investment and the number of jobs available to Singaporeans.

After a series of feedback sessions, the government announced the Fair Consideration Framework which aims to provide Singaporeans with a fair chance to all Singapore-based jobs without affecting Singapore’s productivity. As of August 2014:

  1. Before a Company can employ a foreign national on Employment Pass (EP), it must list the employment opportunity at the Jobs Bank for 2 weeks. The vacancy must be open to Singaporeans and comply with certain guidelines.
  2. Companies applying for employment passes may be asked to justify why they are recruiting a foreign national over a Singaporean.

Clearly the government think they have struck the right balance with these measures. In his speech, PM Lee states:

“We are controlling foreign worker inflows so that we put pressure on companies to upgrade their workers rather than simply hiring extra bodies. But we still give companies enough access to foreign workers to complement your Singaporean workforce, because if we allow in too few foreign workers, or freeze their numbers, some businesses will not survive and many Singaporean jobs will also disappear.”

No additional measures are planned at least for now:

"I do not expect any further major measures to tighten our foreign worker numbers. We will give companies time to adjust to the measures and to re-tool themselves. At the same time we will continue to monitor this closely."

Employment of foreign workforce rises


The number of foreigners working in Singapore has grown steadily the last few years.

According to statistics published by the Ministry of Manpower, the number of foreign workforce, has risen from just over a million at the end of 2009 to 1.3 millions at the end of 2013. That is a nearly 30% increase over four years.

During the same four-year period, the number of foreign domestic workers increased by a moderate 9.5%, while employment of foreign construction workers also increased by 30%. As of December 2013, foreign domestic workers constitute 16% of foreigners working in Singapore, while foreign construction workers amount for 24% of the total foreign workforce in Singapore. Detailed figures at the Ministry of Manpower.

A separate report issued by the Ministry of Manpower shows that unemployment held steady during May-August 2014, as employment creation moderated in the second quarter. Meanwhile, layoffs declined across all major sectors. The unemployment rate is at 2%, which practically means full employment!

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