23 June 2015
Businesses here find it more difficult to hire workers: Poll
AMANDA LEE

SINGAPORE — Compared with employers worldwide, a higher proportion of businesses in Singapore are finding it difficult to hire workers, a survey by a manpower consultancy has found.

Forty per cent of employers in Singapore who responded to a survey by ManpowerGroup said they found it difficult to hire people, compared with the global average of 38 per cent. The top-five hardest-to-fill positions are largely white-collar jobs: Accounting and finance staff, sales representatives, engineers, secretaries, and marketing, public relations and communications specialists. Other positions also include IT personnel and technicians.

The firm surveyed 41,700 hiring managers in 42 countries and territories, of whom 234 were from Singapore.

Globally, the reasons cited for the difficulties in hiring were a lack of available applicants or no applicants for the jobs (35 per cent), a lack of technical competencies (34 per cent), a lack of experience (22 per cent), a lack of workplace competencies (17 per cent) and applicants looking for more pay than what was offered (13 per cent).

Earlier this month, the latest Ministry of Manpower report found that total employment has fallen for the first time in six years, and employers have told TODAY that the shortage of workers has affected hiring plans.

Meanwhile, a separate survey of 1,225 respondents — including some in Singapore — commissioned by Right Management in the fourth quarter of last year found that 45 per cent of respondents rank work-life balance as their first career aspiration, while only one in ten defined success as high performance and productivity.

Human resource experts and business organisations TODAY spoke to said certain vacancies are hard to fill as they lack career progression prospects, while others involve skill sets that are easily transferable from one company to another. For some sectors, the talent pool is small.

Singapore Business Federation chief operating officer Victor Tay said many in Singapore aspire towards management roles. As such, positions such as receptionists and secretaries tend to be avoided, he said. Meanwhile, marketing and public relations professionals have “portable skill sets” that allow them to easily job hop, he said.

As for fields such as engineering — which has long faced a high attrition rate — Mr Tay said the specialised skills needed are not easy to find.

The IT industry faces a similar problem. Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee noted there is a “brain drain” in the sector, with many workers moving to other industries. “They may find other industries more attractive from (the) remuneration perspective ... (and) their skill sets (are) applicable,” he said.

He felt more could be done to help younger Singaporeans better understand their strengths and weakness while they are still in school. That way, they have a better idea of which industries suit them. “You can produce many people in (a particular) faculty but they may not enjoy their work, and they don’t stay in their field, (then) you may not get a high-performing workforce in the area,” said Mr Wee.

Mr Tay noted that some employers in some sectors are already looking at job redesign to improve career prospects.

Singapore Management University vice-president (office of business development) Annie Koh said an employment contract is “no longer enough” to win over an employee’s loyalty and commitment unless it is a social contract anchored on give and take.

“Investing in talent doesn’t only mean sending workers for training ... (it means) that when we find the talent with the right fit — we recruit to retain, develop, empower and build a pipeline of a Singaporean core with leadership roles in mind at every level of the company,” said Professor Koh.

Mr Adrian Tan, a job hunting coach at CareerLadder, said to manage the desire for work-life balance, employers of professionals, managers and executives should be open to this group working from home. Firms can also do an in-depth survey to find out what staff want to achieve from a work-life balance.

CR: TODAY Online

Link: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/businesses-here-find-it-more-difficult-hire-workers-poll?page=1