News: Talent everywhere, but not the ones they want


Talent everywhere, but not the ones they want

Since the pandemic, the number of international job seekers hoping to find a place in Singapore has nearly doubled, according to new figures from Indeed.
Talent everywhere, but not the ones they want

Singapore is a market constantly in dire need of talent, as business leaders across the city-state will confirm. But according to the numbers from some job boards, there are plenty of job seekers ready and willing to relocate. Data from Indeed shows a 96% increase in job seekers outside Singapore actively looking for jobs in the country between August 2020 and August 2023, with one of the largest jumps coming in 2021 after Singapore's borders reopened.

Most of the job seekers, unsurprisingly, come from close neighbour Malaysia (32%), with India (16%) and the Philippines (7%) also making up a noticeable proportion. While the released data does not cover job seekers from China and Japan, a rare disclosure by the government in 2021 indicates that these two geographies also provide significant numbers of foreign talent.

Are these job seekers a match for open roles?

As one of the most highly digitalised economies in the region, Singapore constantly needs tech talent. One estimate by the Monetary Authority of Singapore suggests that only 1/3 of tech roles in the financial sector alone are filled by locals. 

Similarly, the city-state's role as a financial hub means an ongoing demand for financial talent. And the expansion of engineering multinationals in the country, all of them competing for the same small talent pool, has created just as much competition for engineers and technicians. Data from job boards substantiates this, showing that Singapore has a greater concentration of jobs in management, tech, engineering and banking compared to its closest competitor Hong Kong and its closest neighbour Malaysia.

However, that same data seems to indicate that talent using the job boards tends to be looking for lower-tier roles - Indeed's data, for example, shows that international job seekers are looking for opportunities in sectors such as administration (11%), technology (7%), management (5%), sales (5%), and manufacturing (5%), and roles such as administrative assistant (3%), warehouse worker (3%), quality surveyor (2%), production employer (1%), and account executive (1%). 

Unsurprisingly, companies in Singapore have limited success finding the talent they need among the international talent pool. While data on how many of these job seekers get hired isn't available, figures from the Ministry of Manpower do show that lower-tier roles held by foreign talent increased by 27% over the 2020-2023 period, but the number of foreign talent in higher-tier roles increased by only 11% or stayed almost stagnant during the same time - despite the number of these roles anecdotally increasing across the board.

The ministry had acknowledged this shortage just last year during the rollout of several new initiatives to try and attract more tech talent, especially those at the top tier.

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Topics: Recruitment, Employment Landscape

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