Bright spots for execs, despite layoffs

Bright spots for execs, despite layoffs

SINGAPORE - Even as more executives were laid off last year than in 2011, the situation is unlikely to worsen this year, human-resource experts said, pointing to some bright spots in the job market.

Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at human-resource consultancy firm The GMP Group, said there will still be layoffs of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) this year in the face of the changing business strategies of companies.

But he said this is unlikely to increase over last year's amount. Mr Finian Toh, a manager of the finance, projects and operations division at Robert Walters Singapore, predicted that layoffs this year would be kept to a minimum.

Mr Goh explained that he expected it would "be easier for locals with the relevant skill sets to find employment" in the future, with government plans to tighten hiring of highly skilled foreign labour which were announced at the end of February.

He also did not expect major changes to the redundancy of PMETs in general, unless there are unforeseen events, such as an outbreak of the H7N9 bird-flu virus.

Mr Toh did not expect more layoffs this year because "companies would (prefer) to redirect their focus to remobilising their current workforce, or sending their existing employees for training and development to acquire new skills".

A Ministry of Manpower report released yesterday showed that PMETs accounted for 54 per cent, or 5,960, of all layoffs last year. This was an increase from 2011, when PMETs accounted for 42 per cent, or 4,170, of all layoffs.

Findings from yesterday's report also showed that for every 1,000 PMETs, 7.4 were made redundant last year.

This is also an increase over 2011, when 5.5 out of 1,000 PMETs were laid off. Even so, last year's figures were still below the recessionary high of 15 for every 1,000 PMETs in 2009.

The report added that the findings possibly reflect the growing vulnerability of mid-level white-collar workers, due to globalisation and technological innovations.

Mr Goh said that "the sluggish economy caused pockets of retrenchment in several industries, including banking and finance, last year".

He added that, as the global situation changed, demand for labour in Singapore also changed.

"Businesses have simply restructured and moved some of their operations to more cost-effective locations," he said.

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