Unemployment rate falls in Singapore

Singapore's CBD skyline

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s unemployment rate has fallen further.

At the end of September, it was 2.1 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent in June.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) said among the resident labour force, the unemployment rate was 3.1 per cent, also down by 0.1 percentage point.

It said in its preliminary estimates for the third quarter, total employment has grown by 24,100 in the quarter.

This brought total employment growth in the first nine months of the year to 85,500, compared to a flat growth of 100 in the corresponding period of last year, due to the global economic downturn.

MOM said the employment creation came primarily from the services sector, which added 24,100 workers in the quarter.

Construction employment rose marginally (100) due to the completion of major building projects earlier in the year.

Manufacturing employment continued to fall (—400), though the decline eased from the previous quarter (—2,300).

Lynne Ng, Regional Director of Adecco South East Asia, said: "It’s not surprising to see the service sector adding the majority of new jobs in Q3. This sector has gone through significant change this year, with the opening of so many new hotel and entertainment facilities."

Ms Ng added that companies will continue to hire "sensibly" and that the challenge now for human resource managers is to support their organisation in building its talent base, while supporting budgetary restraints.

NTUC Deputy Secretary—General Heng Chee How encouraged job seekers to look for jobs in other sectors.

"If I come from the manufacturing sector and I have a skill set that is required by another company in the same industry, then with minimal adjustment, I will be able to go into that job...if job creation in the manufacturing sector is slowing down, whereas job creation in services is robust, then we must explain to people the opportunities that are present also in the non—manufacturing sector."

MOM said based on preliminary estimates, 1,400 workers were retrenched and 500 had their contracts terminated prematurely, resulting in a total of 1,900 workers made redundant in the third quarter.

This was lower than the 2,280 workers made redundant in the second quarter.

With the pick up in the economy, redundancy in manufacturing fell to 900 from 1,220 in the previous quarter.

Services laid off 900 workers, about the same as the previous quarter.

Construction displaced 100 workers, compared with 150 in the second quarter of 2010.

The dipping unemployment rate points to a tightening labour market and the labour movement hopes to encourage more seniors to get back into the workforce.

The NTUC held a job fair for those aged 50 and above which was attended by some 450 people, with some 370 vacancies in the services sector — including positions for kindergarten teachers and cashiers.

For seniors who may need help to step back in the workforce, a two—day Employability Camp will be available.

The Labour Movement said the camp will equip seniors with "soft skills" to return to the workforce. Mainly for rank—and—file—workers, it could potentially benefit some 186,000 unemployed seniors. The Labour Movement said that classes will start once enough people sign up for them.

Mr Heng adds: "We are looking at the employability camp and customising it more to the needs of our seniors — both in terms of the methods of instruction when they go for the training, as well as the particular skills that they would probably find more valuable in helping them to land that job and also to work with people of all ages."

The programme will help senior job seekers acquire positive and resilient attitudes and also manage inter—generational communication.