Promis­ing mar­ket for job seek­ers as re­trench­ments falls

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

IN a sign of things con­tin­u­ing to im­prove in the job mar­ket, the num­ber of re­trench­ments has dipped to a five-year-low in the first quar­ter of this year. And for the first time since March 2016, there were more job open­ings than un­em­ployed per­sons, es­pe­cially for pro­fes­sion­als, man­agers, ex­ec­u­tives and tech­ni­cians (PMETs).

Re­leas­ing its labour mar­ket re­port for first quar­ter of 2018 on Wed­nes­day (June 13), the Manpower Min­istry’s (MOM) data showed that there were 2,320 re­trench­ments in the first quar­ter of this year — the low­est since the first quar­ter of 2013, which saw 2,120 re­trench­ments.

Re­trench­ments were also lower than the pre­vi­ous quar­ter — which saw 3,680 re­trench­ments — and com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, which was nearly 1.5 times more at 4,000.

Busi­ness re­struc­tur­ing and re­or­gan­i­sa­tion con­tin­ued to be the top rea­sons be­hind the re­trench­ments in the first quar­ter of 2018. How­ever, re­trench­ments were “broad-based” across var­i­ous in­dus­tries, with ma­jor­ity com­ing from the ser­vices in­dus­try at 63 per cent — rang­ing from those in whole sale trade, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and pro­fes­sional ser­vices.

The over­all sea­son­ally ad­justed un­em­ploy­ment rate also fell, com­ing down from 2.1 per cent last De­cem­ber to 2 per cent in March this year.

The res­i­dent un­em­ploy­ment rate also fell from 3 per cent to 2.8 per cent in the same pe­riod quar­ter-on-quar­ter, while ci­ti­zen un­em­ploy­ment rate re­mained con­stant at 3 per cent.

In terms of to­tal em­ploy­ments, the fig­ure grew by 3,700 in the first quar­ter of 2018, or by 400, if for­eign domestic work­ers are ex­cluded. This to­tal em­ploy­ment growth is due to an in­crease in ser­vices — such as com­mu­nity, so­cial and per­sonal ser­vices, fi­nan­cial and in­sur­ance ser­vices, trans­porta­tion and stor­age and in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This growth in ser­vices “more than off­sets” the de­cline in manufacturing and con­struc­tion, which mainly af­fected work per­mit hold­ers, said the MOM.

The lat­est re­port also may spell good news for the job hunters.

For the time since March 2016, the ra­tio of job va­can­cies to un­em­ployed per­sons rose from above 1 — with the sea­son­ally ad­justed job va­can­cies in­creas­ing from 49,700 in De­cem­ber last year to 53,900 in March this year. This means, there were more jobs than there were un­em­ployed per­sons.

This surge in job va­can­cies was driven by the PMET-sec­tor, with the largest open­ings in the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions field (1,200), elec­tron­ics (900), pro­fes­sional ser­vices (800) and fi­nan­cial and in­sur­ance ser­vices (800). There were also more non-PMET open­ings in the trans­porta­tion and stor­age sec­tor, as well as com­mu­nity, so­cial and per­sonal ser­vices.

With fewer un­em­ployed per­sons over the quar­ter, the sea­son­ally ad­justed ra­tio of job va­can­cies to un­em­ployed per­sons im­proved from 92 job va­can­cies per 100 job­seek­ers in De­cem­ber 2017 to 104 in March this year.

This year, things are set to be more promis­ing for job seek­ers, with the over­all labour de­mand “ex­pected to ex­pand”, said MOM, which listed out the po­ten­tial job op­por­tu­ni­ties to be found in ser­vice sec­tors such as in fi­nance and in­sur­ance, in­fo­comms and media, health­care, pro­fes­sional ser­vices, lo­gis­tics and whole­sale trade.

How­ever, th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties will be spread out “un­evenly across sec­tors”, and the MOM said that em­ploy­ers in the con­struc­tion and marine ship­yard sec­tor might be more cau­tious about hir­ing.

It re­it­er­ated that with the res­i­dent un­em­ploy­ment rate de­clin­ing to the low­est level since March 2016, “fur­ther im­prove­ments will be harder to at­tain”.

“To keep un­em­ploy­ment low, it is crit­i­cal to pre­pare work­ers and busi­nesses to be ag­ile and re­spon­sive to eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing and the evolv­ing em­ploy­ment land­scape,” said the MOM.

To­gether with Work­force Sin­ga­pore, it will sup­port work­ers in up­grad­ing their skillsets for new op­por­tu­ni­ties through the Adapt and Grow ini­tia­tive, while help­ing busi­nesses to in­no­vate and trans­form through other schemes.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port in a Face­book post, Mr Pa­trick Tay, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Na­tional Trade Unions Congress (NTUC), said while he ex­pects re­trench­ment to re­main low for the first half of this year, there will still be “pock­ets of lay­offs” due to re­or­gan­i­sa­tion, re­struc­tur­ing and re­strate­gi­sa­tion amid tech­no­log­i­cal and dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion, along­side the rise of “cloud, ma­chine and crowd”.

Struc­tural chal­lenges, such as skills and jobs mis­matches will re­main among the main causes of un­em­ploy­ment in the near and medium term, he added.

Still, he said with the “right mind­set, right skillset and right toolset”, Sin­ga­pore­ans will be able to nav­i­gate the wave of change and growth, with sup­port from the labour move­ment and its tri­par­tite part­ners. – TO­DAY

Photo: TO­DAY

The num­ber of re­trench­ments has dipped to a five-year-low in the first quar­ter of this year.

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