Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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From TODAY, Business
Tuesday September 9, 2008

HIRING SLOWDOWN
But jobs in service, construction still aplenty: Survey

ESTHER FUNG
esther@mediacorp.com.sg

Singapore employers are still hiring, though not as strongly as in the past. And they expect to slow down over the next three months.

The sectors that will be least affected by the slowdown are expected to be teaching posts and jobs for public administrators, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

There will still be some hiring in the fourth quarter, with the overall net employment outlook standing at 25 per cent, according to research company Manpower Staffing Services.

Net employment outlook measures the percentage of employers expecting to increase the number of people working for them, less the percentage expecting to employ fewer people.

The outlook has “weakened considerably” — 33 percentage points down on the comparable period last year — showing that the economic downturn is affecting employers’ hiring confidence.

“Companies will be very cautious when making hiring decisions and are paying more attention on their staff productivity figures,” said Mr Philippe Capsie, country manager of Manpower Singapore. “We have to be prepared for more job losses, mainly in the manufacturing sector, if the slowdown continues.”

Employers in the transportation and utilities sector are the most pessimistic, with an outlook that declined by 51 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.

Mr Kwan Chee Wei, group chief human resources officer of supply chain company IMC Corp, said: “We did the bulk of hiring in the first half and are likely to slow down for the rest of the year. This has nothing to do with the external slowdown. Nevertheless, we are always on the lookout for talent for future expansion.”

The strongest employment projections came in the mining and construction sector — with 25 per cent of employers expecting to take on people — followed by the public administration and education sector with 22 per cent.

The former is likely a result of the upcoming projects such as F1 and the integrated resorts, said Mr Capsie.

“Services and construction sectors are likely to continue hiring to meet the high labour demands required of these industries,” he said.

Overall, 26 per cent of the 629 employers surveyed expected to hire more people in the final quarter of this year, while 44 per cent did not foresee changes in hiring. Ten per cent of employers may reduce staffing.

In the region, employers in all eight countries and territories surveyed expect to pull back on hiring. Employers in Singapore, India and Taiwan have the strongest outlook on hiring.
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