Infocomm retrenchment number among highest in 2023 despite being growth sector

Vacancies in the sector, however, remained high.
By Ian Tan Hanhonn 14 Mar 2024
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The information and communications sector recorded one of the highest retrenchment numbers in 2023, registering at 24.9 per 1,000 retrenched employees.


However, job vacancies in the sector remain high despite the retrenchments.


The sector was second only to electronics manufacturing, which registered at 27.5 per 1,000 retrenched employees.


The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released the latest figures in the Labour Market Report 4Q 2023 on 14 March 2023.


According to MOM, retrenchments in the information and communications sector could be attributed to firms rationalising their manpower after the surge in hiring in the previous years, and restructuring of operations to focus on “new and longer-term growth areas.”


MOM Manpower Research and Statistics Department Director Ang Boon Heng believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving the shift.


“Companies are constantly looking out for growth areas or new areas of growth. That is where we see the tech sector heading towards,” he said.


In total, 2023 saw 14,590 workers retrenched.


While retrenchments may continue to rise in 2024, MOM expects most retrenched residents to re-enter the workforce within six months.


“With global headwinds persisting, we also expect business restructuring and reorganisation to continue, which may contribute to further retrenchments.


“The Government and tripartite partners encourage and support employers and workers to press on with business transformation and upskilling,” wrote the ministry.


Job vacancies increase


Meanwhile, December 2023 saw a slight increase in job vacancies after six quarters of consecutive decline.


Job vacancies rose to 79,800 in December 2023, up from 78,200 in September 2023.


Job vacancies were at an all-time high of 124,400 in March 2022, when the economy was recovering from the height of the pandemic.


MOM also noted that there have been more job vacancies per unemployed persons since March 2021, indicating a moderately tight labour market.


Total employment grew moderately


Total employment grew by 88,400 in 2023.


The increase was primarily driven by non-resident employment in the construction and manufacturing sectors.


Resident employment grew by 4,900, mainly in the financial services and professional services sectors, and non-resident employment rose by 83,500.


With 94 per cent of total employment growth attributed to non-resident growth, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay suggested that to attract Singaporeans to join certain sectors, more structured career progression models with better wages and work prospects needs to be considered.


For the last quarter of 2023, total employment expanded for the ninth consecutive quarter. However, it was significantly lower than the previous quarter, growing by 7,500 in 4Q 2023, compared to 3Q 2023’s total employment growth of 23,600.


Unemployment rates remained low


MOM reported that unemployment rates remained “stable and low” for December 2023.


Overall unemployment was at 2 per cent, with resident unemployment registering at 2.8 per cent and citizen unemployment at 2.9 per cent.


Seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate remained at 0.7 per cent.


Re-employment re-entry rates fall


The re-entry rate among retrenched workers (six months post-retrenchment) dropped to 61.5 per cent in 4Q 2023 from 65.3 per cent in the preceding quarter.


However, MOM noted this was within the 60 to 70 per cent range seen before the pandemic.


The annual average re-entry rate between 2015 to 2019 was 65.7 per cent.