Understanding the Talent Crunch in Singapore: What is It?

Understanding the Talent Crunch in Singapore: What is It?
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 05 May, 2022

A job that has been vacant for months after its job advertisements have been out for at least 6 months or more. This is something that hirers are increasingly facing in the recent times. The reason? The talent crunch in Singapore.

Singapore is experiencing a talent crunch as businesses adapt to the easing of pandemic measures. The talent crunch, as defined by Korn Ferry, refers to the gap between the supply and demand of skilled labour. Presently, in Singapore, the demand for talent is surging. However, jobs are going unfilled.

According to a survey by NTUC LearningHub, over 6 in 10 employers indicated that they are looking to hire, compared to over 5 in 10 last year. However, only 1 in 10 employees surveyed are actively looking for a new job. Nearly 4 in 5 employers surveyed who are hiring or intending to hire have found getting people to fill the jobs they have a challenge.

In MOM’s latest Labour Market Report, the number of job vacancies increased from 92,100 in June 2021 to 98,700 in September 2021. Together with the decline in unemployed persons, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons trended higher. There were 209 job vacancies for every 100 unemployed persons in September 2021, up from 163 in June 2021.

The industries most impacted by the talent crunch include the media, infocomm technology, energy and chemicals, and healthcare industries where employees are amongst the least likely to look for employment. With experienced employees not looking to leave their current jobs and insufficient candidates with specialised skills in the job market, companies that are hiring for roles that require specialist expertise find themselves unable to find someone for the job.

The Talent Crunch in the Tech Industry

The tech industry is one of the industries facing the worst of the talent crunch as demand for talent starts to soar.

According to Decoding Digital Talent, a report released by BCG, The Network, and JobStreet, digital workers are confident in their abilities and their desirability, which gives them the privilege to pick and choose their employers according to their personal preferences. Financial compensation is still the top priority for most employees, but there are also other factors that inform their decisions when picking an employer such as flexibility in work location and hours, whether the work is interesting or challenging, and social issues such as gender equality.

Ruthie Garelik, HR Executive Director for IT at The Estée Lauder Companies, says that digital workers are being offered “very competitive packages across all industries” to jump to a different employer, showing just how heated the war for digital talent is.

Many big corporations are expanding in Singapore, with some examples being China’s Tencent and Bytedance, U.S.-based Zoom Video Communications, and Southeast Asian unicorns Grab and Sea Ltd. However, Singapore has a naturally small talent pool due to its population and a limited number of tech talents for companies to hire. Additionally, with the restrictions on travelling, which are now being reduced as pandemic measures are lifted, this means that there is a reduced number of foreign talents in Singapore to make up for the small talent pool here.

Hence, the expansion progress for companies looking to grow in Singapore has been slow as companies embroiled in the talent war find themselves unable to hire for the roles they need.

Tackling the Talent Crunch

With the current situation being a high demand for talent and a low supply, the war for talent is heating up in Singapore as employers try to snatch up ready-made talents.

However, hiring plug-and-play talents is not the only way to go. To make up for the lack of talents, companies can upskill and reskill new and existing employees to train them for the roles that need to be filled, rather than looking for a candidate that checks all the boxes. Employers do not have to look for the perfect candidate for the role, but just a good fit. Even if a candidate may not meet all the hiring criteria, soft skills such as interview skills and transferable skills coupled with a willingness to learn can prove to be important merits.

Employers can also broaden their search for talent by upping the gender diversity in their workplaces. According to JobStreet’s candidate insights, at the entry and junior level, the distribution between male and female candidates are mostly equal. However, as the position level advances, a lower proportion of female candidates are shortlisted or hired. At Senior Manager level, only one-third of the shortlisted and hired candidates are female.

Lastly, to remain competitive in the war for talent, employers can provide flexible work arrangement options to attract talent. In a paper by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), more than half the survey respondents said that flexible work arrangements should be the new norm for workplaces in Singapore. Around 20 per cent to 35 per cent of respondents say that working from home on most days should be the norm, with 4 in 10 saying that employees should be allowed to work from home three days a week. Some even said they would consider looking for another job if their employer required them to return to the office on most days.

Be the Right One for the Job

As job opportunities in the market grow, candidates can appeal to hirers either by having the specialised skills that hirers are looking for, or by strengthening their transferable skills. As we move towards an increasingly digitalised market, skills to do with product, engineering, sales, marketing, people management, and strategy will stay relevant. Reskilling and upskilling have become buzzwords and there are numerous courses for jobseekers to take if they are looking to sharpen their skills to impress hirers.

In the war for talent in Singapore, hirers and candidates alike can come out on top if they adapt to the talent crunch with flexible and agile solutions.

For more insightful career advice, visit JobStreet’s Career Resources page. Ready to be hired? Visit JobStreet now to start your job search.

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