Demand to fill green jobs in Singapore fuels hiring optimism for Q3: Survey

SINGAPORE – Despite the uncertain economic outlook, there are signs that the need to fill green jobs has helped to restore hiring optimism among Singapore employers ahead of the third quarter of 2023.

This and stronger hiring sentiment in several other sectors have pushed the net employment outlook – a measure of hiring optimism – to post an improved 34 per cent for the third quarter, according to the results of a survey of more than 500 employers across nine sectors in Singapore.

Recruitment firm ManpowerGroup released the results on Tuesday.

The net employment outlook is defined as the percentage of companies surveyed that intend to take on new staff, minus the percentage that intend to downsize in the upcoming quarter.

“Companies are expanding their headcount for green roles as Singapore moves towards establishing itself as a carbon services and green finance hub,” said Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.

“With Singapore targeting to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we can expect hiring demand for green jobs to continue to grow as companies formulate their business strategies with climate goals in mind,” she added.

In the Employment Outlook Survey for the third quarter of 2023, 48 per cent of 510 employers polled expressed plans to expand their headcount from July to September, while 14 per cent intend to cut jobs.

Another 36 per cent expressed plans to keep headcount steady, and the remaining 2 per cent were undecided.

The resulting net outlook is up 7 percentage points from results in the previous quarter, but still 6 percentage points down from the 40 per cent for Q3 2022, which was an 11-year high, coming off the Covid-19 pandemic.

All nine sectors covered by the study reported a net positive outlook, ranging from 22 to 57 per cent.

Hiring optimism was strongest among employers in the energy and utilities sector.

In a sign of a labour crunch, 97 per cent of organisations in the energy and utilities sector here reported difficulty finding the talent they need, compared with the global average of 79 per cent in ManpowerGroup’s survey of 41 countries and territories.

Following closely behind in net outlook were the three sectors of finance and real estate, consumer goods and service, and communication services, which posted 50 per cent, 45 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, the weakest labour markets are anticipated to be the information technology, and transport, logistics and automotive sectors, which posted outlooks of 23 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.

Healthcare and life sciences, industrial and materials, and other industries, a category that comprises sectors beyond the other eight, such as public service and education, all posted outlooks of just under 30 per cent.

Employers in large organisations with 250 or more employees reported the most optimistic hiring sentiments, with an outlook averaging 38 per cent.

Conversely, organisations with under 10 employees were the most cautious to hire, with outlook weakening by 20 percentage points from the last quarter to 27 per cent.

Although hiring in the IT sector has slowed down from 2022, the net outlook has stabilised, dipping by 1 percentage point from the previous quarter, noted Ms Teo in response to queries about the sector’s results.

The latest result for the sector was 21 percentage points down from the third quarter of 2022.

The relative weakness of the IT hiring outlook in Singapore also stands in contrast with the 39 per cent global average net outlook for the 2023 third quarter, which was the highest among all sectors studied.

Ms Teo said: “While major tech companies are recalibrating their workforce strategy, small- to-mid-sized tech companies are still hiring, mainly for hard-to-fill roles in the areas of data analysis, cloud and cyber security.”