A Tough Ride Ahead : Bleak Economic Outlook & Employment

StaffOnDemand Blog

Bleak Economic Outlook & Employment

According to the latest MOM report, the number of job openings in Singapore had fallen below the number of job seekers for the first time in four years.  This, together with the data released by the central bank, signalled tough times ahead with predictions of job losses amidst a sluggish economy. With an abysmal showing by both the manufacturing and services sectors, Singapore’s economy contracted by 4.1 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualised basis, in accordance to estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The same labor report by MOM also revealed that unemployment amounts citizens and permanent residents rose to 3% in the 2nd quarter of 2016, up from 2.7% in Q1 2016.

Highest level of retrenchments since global financial crisis in 2009

A total of 9510 workers were made redundant in the first half of 2016, compared with 6750 in the same period in 2015. This marks a 7-year high in the number of workers who were either retrenched or have had their contracts annulled since the global financial crisis.

In such tough economic times, read on about ways you can build resilience in both your employees, and your business!

Cultivating Resilience in Your Staff and Your Business

1 - Gaining Clarity on Your Business Offering

Even if your business is fairly established with a strong clientele, the imperative is always to be clear on what your business can offer in the longer term horizon to not only your existing clientele, but new markets that could be complementary to your business. One of the easiest ways to do that is to go through a thoughtful analysis of your business offering. Some of the questions you should strive to answer is :

  • What are the pain points that your product / solution / service currently resolve for your clients?
  • Why does your product / solution / service do better than your competitors?
  • Are there fundamental shifts in the market that would make your offering obsolete?
  • What are some of the upcoming trends in the market for your industry? Are these boons or banes to your current offering?
  • How can you adapt your offering to cater for an altered economy?

2 - Upskilling your employees

On the surface, upskilling your employees may seem like a one-way street when it comes to benefits  - Your staff benefits at the cost of you paying for their training, and time committed to the training instead of work. However, upskilling your employees is one of the best investments to embark on amidst a sluggish economic outlook - Here are 3 reasons why:

1 - Raise productivity of your employees

In the midst of a slowdown, upskilling the productivity will reap you rewards in the longer term, since your staff would be able to raise their productivity levels, and business operations can enjoy this lift in productivity and consequent cost savings from having to hire additional manpower.

2- Talent retention is more cost effective than talent acquisition

Upskilling your staff is a positive reinforcement of the commitment by the company to invest in its people. In addition, by crafting career progression plans for your employees through upskilling them to take on more senior responsibilities, you are actually building a strong talent pipeline without having to engage in talent acquisition efforts. Internal promotion and talent retention is always more cost effective than talent acquisition, which also requires proper onboarding of the new employee if he/she is new to the organization.

3 - Government co-sharing support of sponsored training for your employees

With the bleak economic outlook and raising levels of involuntary unemployment of workers through redundancy, the government is also stepping in to actively push forward for workers to be trained and gain employment resilience in a fast-changing world.

There are various assistance schemes to assist companies in upskilling their existing or new staff, such as :

Enhanced Training Support for SMEs

Enhanced Training Support for SMEs is a scheme aimed at encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to send employees for training and skills upgrading.

Find out more here

Career Support Programme (CSP)

Wage support to encourage employers to hire eligible mid-career Singaporean Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) who are made redundant,  and tap on their experience and transferable skills.

Find out more here


Statement on Labour Market Developments, MOM, September 2016

Government ready to act if Singapore goes into recession, The Straits Times, October 2016

Government Grants, SME Portal