SINGAPORE: A total of 11,560 workers were laid off last year, slightly higher than the 11,010 in 2012, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its "Redundancy and Re-entry into Employment, 2013" report released on Thursday.
This works out to 5.8 workers per 1,000 employees, unchanged from 2012.
Mr Stephen Lee, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation, said: "It is still a very manageable figure. And I think some redundancy, restructuring type of turnover is actually healthy for the economy."
The top reason for redundancy was the restructuring of business processes for greater work efficiency, affecting 40 per cent of the workers laid off in 2013, up from 37 per cent in 2012.
High costs and reorganisation of businesses were the other key reasons cited.
Observers said it is possible for companies to restructure without making employees redundant.
David Ang, director of capability and business development at Human Capital Singapore, said: "For example, it might be a situation that the company downsizes in Singapore, retains all the manpower for the HQ in Singapore and provide services out to the region.
"The excess employees who are in operation might be useful in terms of being re-deployed to overseas operations, to see how they can train up and build up the capability in the overseas entities."
In a press release outlining the findings of the report, it was also noted that professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) were more vulnerable to redundancy, with 7.3 made redundant for every 1,000 PMETs, compared to production and related workers (5.7 per 1,000) and clerical, sales and service workers (2.8 per 1,000).
Nonetheless, the unemployment rate of PMETs remained lower than other occupations.
The number of residents laid off from PMET positions was also "not large" at 4,940.
66% of residents made redundant in the first three quarters of 2013 re-entered employment by December 2013, within 12 months of redundancy.
This was slightly lower than the rate in 2012, due to PMETs spending more time seeking jobs.
Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, said: "I think mainly because they will take time to pick up new skills or look for a job that matches their skills, qualifications, salary expectations."
Mr Ang advises younger PMETs to be more flexible and older ones to adjust their salary expectations.
There was, however, an improvement in the last three quarters of the year, with the rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy rising from 49 per cent in March 2013 to 59 per cent in December 2013. - CNA/nd/ac
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