Workforce optimisation is expected to continue in 2024, as companies adapt to a shifting economic landscape marked by tighter consumer spending and rapid technological advancements.

Our 2024 Workmonitor research in Singapore found that 52% of professionals are worried about losing their jobs, up from 46% in 2023. The marginal increase in workforce sentiment is unsurprising, given the recent surge in rightsizing and retrenchment activity.

Rightsizing is not expected to continue among multinational companies and unicorns at the same pace and scale observed over the past six months. However, workforce adjustments will continue as organisations transform themselves.

The changes in skills demands could lead to increased competition for top talent, particularly in emerging fields experiencing a global skills shortage, such as sustainability and the digital economy.

talent and skills corporate functions report
talent and skills corporate functions report

building a future-ready workforce with genAI & digital literacy skills.

Generative AI (GenAI) has proven to be very useful for content creation, data analysis and the optimisation of existing business processes. From drafting business emails to analysing data, GenAI is not simply creating new job opportunities, but revolutionising traditional job scopes within corporate support functions.

In Singapore, AI stands out as the top learning and development opportunity among workers. According to our research, 39% of respondents prioritise AI learning, 10% higher than the global average.

GenAI is also a national priority under the National AI Strategy (NAIS 2.0), which was refreshed in December 2023. Beyond investing over $20 million in the next three years to increase local scholarships and overseas internships in AI roles, Singapore is investing up to $500 million in high-performance compute resources for AI innovation and capability building.

However, GenAI presents its own set of data and accuracy privacy concerns, requiring careful attention when applied in a business environment. Integrating GenAI into existing infrastructure for positive and measurable results poses challenges surrounding data quality, ethical concerns and potential biases. Additionally, there may be resistance from employees due to fears of job displacement or mistrust in AI.

Companies must invest in robust infrastructure, talent, and continuous monitoring to navigate these challenges effectively and maximise the benefits of GenAI integration while mitigating risks.

Within corporate roles that deal primarily with documentation, such as office managers and human resources executives, GenAI can release them from their administrative hours through automating and optimising routine tasks. HR professionals can take advantage of the time regained to deepen their relationships with stakeholders and address more complex workplace issues.

Human resources talent can also use GenAI in several ways, such as generating more personalised and detailed job descriptions for recruitment and curating learning pathways based on individual skill gaps and career goals.

impact of AI learning
impact of AI learning

The accounting and finance industry is unlikely to become early adopters of GenAI due to ongoing concerns with the technology, including inaccurate calculations, open-source leaks as well as the lack of data governance. However, the Singapore government is already creating proofs of concept using real-world cases to test how GenAI can be applied more reliably and safely.

GenAI is rapidly transforming corporate and support functions, and skills priorities now revolve around data literacy, problem-solving and strategic thinking. Companies should recruit and train talent with a dual focus:

  • Blended skills: developing both traditional data analysis and GenAI capabilities to drive use cases.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: encouraging collaboration with IT and other departments to ensure investments align with business needs and deliver measurable outcomes.

navigating the green transition: singapore’s push for climate competency in the workforce

Despite Singapore’s progress till date, EY’s 2023 Global Climate Risk Barometer report found that Southeast Asia falls behind its global peers in terms of climate-related disclosures in terms of quality and coverage. The report also showed that 89% of the companies in Southeast Asia do not reference climate-related matters in their financial statements.

In a bid to meet global climate goals, Singapore has significantly strengthened its climate reporting requirements. Listed companies will be required to make climate-related disclosures starting from FY 2025, with large non-listed companies following suit in FY 2027.

Sustainability has become a central focus for Singapore from the digital economy to sectors such as manufacturing and power. As the country aims to catalyse green innovations across key industries, this shift will fuel skill demand in several areas:

  • Accounting & Finance: Increased demand for professionals skilled in environmental accounting, navigating carbon pricing mechanisms and integrating climate risk into financial reporting.
  • Legal: Expertise in climate regulations, carbon liabilities, and climate-related litigation will be crucial for legal teams to ensure compliance and manage potential legal challenges.
  • ESG Communication: Investor relations, public affairs, and corporate communications will need skilled communicators to craft and draft transparent messaging that meets stakeholder objectives.
sustainable progressive employers
sustainable progressive employers

As companies adopt a more climate-focused agenda, Singaporeans are in favour of working for more environmentally conscious employers. In fact, 2 in 5 Singaporeans said that they will not accept a job with a business that does not align with their values on social and environmental issues. More than 1 in 2 people also consider the company’s stance and action on environmental issues when thinking about their employment.

employer branding is the key to attracting top talent

Amid inflationary pressures, Mastercard Economics Institution predicted that real consumer spending in Singapore will slow at 2.8% in 2024, down from 3.5% in 2023. With the rising cost of living resulting in more people cutting back on their expenses, we are seeing that Singaporeans are even more motivated now to find jobs that offer higher salaries.

According to the 2024 Randstad Singapore Workmonitor survey, 3 in 10 people said that they have resigned from their job because of low wages and 90% said that pay is a key factor when thinking about their employment prospects. 58% also said that they are not likely to accept a job if it did not offer a significantly higher salary.

While pay is an evergreen factor for job seekers, non-monetary factors such as workplace flexibility and mental health support are increasingly important. Talent is looking for employers that offer them a more holistic experience beyond a competitive salary.

59% said that they would not accept a job if they thought that it would negatively affect their work-life balance. Benefits like healthcare insurance, mental health support and work flexibility are crucial to job seekers in Singapore. In fact, our research found that Singaporeans value mental health support more than other healthcare benefits.

singaporeans want work life balance
singaporeans want work life balance

Building a more equitable environment not only helps employers expand their talent pool, it also creates a more diverse workplace where workers can feel like they are part of an inclusive community. When asked about what are the most important equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and policies that matter, Singaporeans ranked the following as their top three factors:

  1. Family leave for all employees - 53%
  2. Diverse workforce - 47%
  3. Gender pay equity - 46%

Employer branding and talent attraction are synergistic elements crucial for organisations aiming to cultivate a dynamic and progressive workforce. Beyond improving the total employee experience, investing in individual development is a crucial demonstration of commitment to employees. By fostering a satisfied workforce, employers enhance their appeal to the local talent pool, increasing their likelihood of securing top-tier professionals.

download our corporate & support functions talent & skills report for singapore

Fill in your particulars in the form below to download the 2024 Corporate and Support Functions Talent and Skills Report to uncover talent movement trends, new skill demands, and salary benchmarks for in-demand roles in human resources, sales and marketing, accounting and finance and corporate support services in Singapore. 

partner with randstad

If you’re looking to establish your business in Singapore for the first time, let us help you source specialised talent for your recruitment needs. Connect with our recruitment specialists to learn more about talent expectations and key labour trends to plan your workforce strategy.

Need to tap into contract workers to support your business growth plan? Work with us for tailored end-to-end recruitment and HR services solutions. Alternatively, if you are an active candidate, explore your options in today’s world of work. 

related content:

hire the best-fit talent.

our recruitment solutions

build your future workforce.

let's get in touch