The rise of digital transformation has opened up new opportunities for skilled graduates in the technology sector. However, high demand for professionals was not matched with the availability of talents with required experience and skills.
Talent shortage continued to be a major challenge for many Singapore firms, found Ministry of Manpower (MOM). In its latest job vacancies report, MOM revealed that software, Web and multimedia developers topped the list of occupations with the most unmet demand last year among professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMETs.
The report also showed more job opportunities for PMETs, indicating the overall shift towards higher value-added jobs. The data showed an increase to 49 percent of all openings in September last year, compared with 48 percent in 2016, Straits Times reports.
Labour MP Patrick Tay said the shortage of software, Web and multimedia developers could be attributed to the fact that people trained in these areas choose to work in other roles such as IT project management. He said that in the past, working in this area seemed to offer better career prospects. However, things has changed and there needs to be a change of mindset as well. According to him, the ministry needs to help them update their programming skills, as students now seem keen on coding.
Job vacancies in the report refer to openings for which employers conduct active hiring for workers from outside their businesses. In total, the report noted 53,100 job creations at end-September last year, down from 53,800 the year before and 60,000 in 2015. Employers were also reportedly able to find workers more quickly last year, with the proportion of vacancies unfilled for at least six months has dipped from 36 percent in 2016 to 33 percent in 2017.
OCBC economist Selena Ling said that among the reason of the shrinking vacancies could be due to rosier economic growth in the second half of last year. Additionally, companies also showed interest in investing in technology to become more productive.
Meanwhile, there were fewer job openings for non-PMETs. Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin said this trend was owing to slower business in more labour-intensive sectors such as construction and retail, which is facing disruption from e-commerce.
Other PMET occupations with most unmet demand were teaching and training professionals, commercial and marketing sales executives, as well as management executives. Lack of relevant work experience was cited to be the top challenge in hiring local PMETs for hard-to-fill vacancies, said employers.
As for non-PMETs, the roles with the most vacancies were security guards, receptionists, customer service and information clerks, as well as shop sales assistants. MOM found that unattractive pay, required to work on weekends and public holidays, and shift work are among main reasons why people stayed away from these non-PMET jobs that could not be filled for six months or more
In the push to encourage employers to hire workers based on skills, the report also included a new metric on whether academic qualifications should be the main consideration in hiring. MOM said that this qualification was not in four out of 10 PMET vacancies. For non-PMET vacancies, it was not the main consideration for nine out of 10 vacancies.
Further, MOM urged firms to do more to redesign non-PMET jobs, including to widen the pool of potential hires to overcome skill mismatches and tap government support for their hiring needs. It said that mismatches will continue to be a growing challenge, given that the nature of jobs keep evolving with technology and industry transformation.