SINGAPORE - Employers have become more cautious in hiring in the second half of the year, with two in three planning to freeze recruitment altogether, according to a survey by local recruitment firm Achieve Group.
For those who still need workers - 32 per cent of those surveyed - most are taking in only small numbers. This means an increase of no more than 5 per cent, according to 35 per cent of the employers, while 42 per cent declined to be specific.
Some 18 per cent see employment growth of 5-10 per cent and another 5 per cent expect headcounts to be "more than 10 per cent" higher.
Salary increases for the new staff will also be modest.
Most - 41 per cent - of the employers hiring say they will offer increments of "less than 5 per cent".
Only 2 per cent are ready to up pay by 10-15 per cent.
Achieve's chief executive Joshua Yim says industries still looking for workers are property & construction, hospitality, retail and food & beverage, healthcare and pharmaceutical and professional services.
Despite the overall caution in hiring, the survey finds local workers still hard to come by for many employers.
An "alarming" 52 per cent of the employers surveyed are finding it tough to fill their vacancies with Singaporeans.
They list three main reasons - Singaporeans are "too choosy" about their jobs; they demand "too high" salaries; and many don't answer to job advertisements.
The survey covered 450 employers in 9 industries - banking & finance; healthcare and pharmaceutical; IT telecommunications; hospitality, retail and F&B; shipping & logistics; industrial manufacturing & engineering; oil & gas; professional services; and property & construction.
"Fewer organisations are intending to hire during this period (second half), with the majority appearing to take a wait-and-see stance before they commit to increasing their headcounts," Mr Yim says.
Given the "lingering" uncertain economic backdrop, Achieve's survey shows 53 per cent of the employers looking to slower business growth of 2 per cent at most.
The more upbeat ones projected growth of over 5 per cent, but they make up just 12 per cent of those surveyed.
Still, only 2 per cent of the employers in the survey say they will take drastic actions to cut staff.
But salaries are likely to stand still in the second half of the year - and 58 per cent of the employers indicate that's their stand. Only 2 per cent are prepared to increase salaries by over 5 per cent.
Some 18% of employers see employment growth of 5-10% and another 5% expect headcounts to be more than 10% higher.