26 April 2013
More workers laid off in 2012: MOM
Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid

More workers were made redundant in 2012 compared to the previous year, revealed the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday.

SINGAPORE: More workers were laid off in Singapore in 2012. The figure rose to over 11,000 - 10 per cent more compared to 2011.

Professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs) are also becoming more vulnerable to redundancy.

These were revealed by the Manpower Ministry in its latest report on Redundancy and Re-entry into Employment.

Retrenchments continued to form the bulk of redundancy, affecting almost nine in 10 of workers laid off last year. The remaining were released prematurely from their contracts.

PMETS formed the bulk of workers made redundant.

About 54 per cent of total workers made redundant were displaced from PMET positions last year compared to 42 per cent in 2011.

About seven in 10 of the PMETs who were laid off were from the services sector such as the financial and insurance services. A majority of them were in their 30s and 40s.

The Manpower Ministry said the growing vulnerability of mid-level white collar workers could be due to globalisation and technological innovations, which had previously impacted mainly blue collar manufacturing workers.

The top reason for redundancy was restructuring of business processes for greater efficiency.

Other reasons include poor business and high operating costs amid an economic slowdown.

And economists said redundancy is likely to pick up this year as businesses continue to restructure for higher productivity, in light of the tightening of foreign worker policies.

CIMB Research’s regional economist, Song Seng Wun said: “Rentals being an issue, cost of labour being an issue, so these certainly make businesses look at restructuring. High productivity is so called the "battle-cry" for the government, so collectively this makes businesses looking at restructuring to stay lean and fitter, so redundancy has gone up.”

The rate of re-entry into employment dipped last year, but remained above recessionary levels.

About 68 per cent of those made redundant in the first three quarters of last year got a job by December last year – slightly lower than the 70 per cent in 2011.

Observers said PMETs will continue to see challenges as they try to re-enter the workforce with a growing supply of tertiary graduates.

But it's not all doom and gloom.

Song said: “They will still prefer to hire the cheaper graduates, after all bottom line still matter. PMETs will still be able to find work, although it may take a little longer than their younger and cheaper counterparts.”

Adecco Group’s marketing director, Imran Johri said: “Even if you have been made redundant for whatever reason, you have to take stock of what it is that you are really good at, and then take some courses, continue to study again, invest in your career, invest in your knowledge based, just be better at what you do and certify and brand yourselves as a talent. Because talent is what employers are looking for.”

Observers said job creation will continue in sectors such as healthcare and finance.