SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): As global travel resumes, domestic Covid-19 restrictions ease, and demand for consumer-facing services rise in Singapore, more people are being hired in the aviation, food and beverage, and accommodation sectors.
Figures by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for the second quarter of 2022 show the hiring rate was particularly strong for production and transport operators, cleaners and labourers in air transport and related services, at 11.6 per cent - the highest among all sectors tracked.
This comes as major aviation employers ramped up hiring to deal with a faster-than-expected rebound of flight volume after border restrictions were eased in April.
Even as overall recruitment rates in Q2 rose to a rate last seen in 2014, resignation rates for all sectors held steady - indicating that employers have been able to not only bring in workers but also retain them.
"Tourism- and aviation-related sectors are expected to continue to benefit from the strong recovery in air passengers and international visitor arrivals," said MOM in a statement accompanying its labour market report on Tuesday.
The overall monthly recruitment rate for air transport and its supporting services averaged 3.6 per cent in Q2, a sharp increase over the 0.8 per cent in Q1.
Despite the hiring spree, the vacancy rate for production and transport operators, cleaners and labourers in the sector remains high, at over 17 per cent, a figure approached only by that of similar workers in the accommodation sector.
Meanwhile, the average monthly recruitment rate for the accommodation sector in the second quarter was 4.7 per cent, while the resignation rate averaged 3.6 per cent over the same period.
The overall vacancy rate for the sector, at 11.1 per cent, is the highest among all sectors MOM tracks, with clerical, sales and service workers clocking a 12 per cent rate.
The average monthly resignation rate for professionals, managers, executives and technicians in accommodation - 3.6 per cent - eclipsed the 3.4 per cent hiring rate over Q2, a trend seen only in this sector.
In its statement, MOM said the seasonally adjusted resignation rate across all sectors held steady at 1.7 per cent for the fourth consecutive quarter.
The seasonally adjusted overall recruitment rate rose to 2.6 per cent, a rate last seen in 2014, from 2.5 per cent in the previous quarter.
Taken together, these rates suggest employers have been able to bring in and retain their workers, providing relief to manpower shortages, said MOM.
However, permanent secretary for manpower Ng Chee Khern told reporters on Tuesday that Singapore's labour force participation rate is already over 70 per cent, one of the highest among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
"So what that means is that there is a limit to how many more Singaporeans and permanent residents can be pushed back into the labour force," he said.
Nonetheless, said Ng, the ministry is trying to increase labour force participation via initiatives such as flexible working arrangements that appeal to untapped segments such as caregivers, and part-time work for older workers.
And there is room for non-resident employment to continuing growing and fill the existing shortfalls in food and beverage, accommodation, and arts and entertainment, which are still well short of pre-pandemic levels.
For instance, non-resident employment is about 20 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, with the shortfall rising to around 40 per cent for accommodation and nearly 50 per cent for arts and entertainment, noted Ng.
These shortfalls contribute to the overall non-resident employment level remaining 10 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
Despite the continued rebound in non-resident employment expected, the Government is also encouraging businesses to transform themselves with automation and become more lean, said Kenny Tan, divisional director of MOM's manpower planning and policy division.
"It's also important that... it's not just a numbers game, (that) we just rebound to the same (employment figures) as what we've been before Covid-19."