Business group responds to MOM’s latest call to action

by Miklos Bolza04 Feb 2016
A Ministry of Manpower report on job vacancy statistics for 2015 has provoked different reactions from government figures and industry experts with each proposing their own suggestions for employers.
 
Manpower Minister, Lim Swee Say, said that although the current job vacancy situation was “healthy,” employers should not take the situation for granted.
 
He urged firms to increase transformation efforts now so as to boost competitiveness later on when economic conditions stabilised again.
 
“As we go through this uncertain period ... don’t slow down the process of transformation,” he said.
 
“In fact, this uncertain time is the best time for you to speed up transformation, so that by the time ... the fear of uncertainty is over, hopefully you are ready to compete, adopting a new business model.”
 
However, a number of industry experts have pointed out that the statistics show a serious mismatch between the job vacancies and the candidates available.
 
Ho Meng Kit, chief executive of the Singapore Business Federation, told The Straits Times that the jobs mismatch was strong amongst labour intensive jobs because they weren’t attractive to locals.
 
“Companies will have to review their value chain of activities, undertake process and job re-design, and pay more for better-skilled workers. To continue relying on foreign workers to fill these jobs is not a sustainable, long-term solution,” he said.
 
The Ministry’s report said that professions such as service & sales workers, cleaners, labourers and plant operators were the hardest to fill with 60% of open positions remaining vacant for six months or more.
 
On the other hand, openings for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) were relative easy to fill with only 20% remaining vacant for a long period of time.
 
Foo See Yang, vice-president and country general manager of Kelly Services Singapore, told The Straits Times that employers could fill vacant PMET roles by focusing on flexible workplace practices.
 
“Workplace flexibility is an important factor for Gen Y, the predominant age group who would be considering these junior PMET roles,” he said.
 
“Companies can consider redesigning the work scope and offering contract positions to give these candidates the opportunity to try different roles and have varied experiences.”
 
As for the skills mismatch that PMETs may have when it comes to jobs available, the Manpower Minister expressed confidence that the SkillsFuture initiative will combat this issue.
 
To deal with extended job vacancies for non-PMET roles, some employers have turned to high-tech solutions.
 
For instance, security firm Soverus has reduced its labour needs by 10% by introducing technology such as remote streaming CCTV, video analytics and electronic log books.
 
Related stories:
 
‘Tighter belts need slimmer companies’ – Manpower Minister
 
MOM pushes for enterprise “transformation”
 
PM calls on Singapore workers to lift their game

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