The little red dot has had one of its best years in 2018. In addition to favourable external economic conditions, the transformation projects have paid off as many companies - both public and private - reported stellar profits this year. We also saw a few homegrown brands such as Changi Airport Group and DBS claimed pole position in several esteemed global industry rankings.

For the first time in five years, the Ministry of Manpower reported in March that the number of available jobs surpassed the number of job seekers, prompting many people to return to the workforce.

moderate growth in 2019

Singapore’s gross domestic product is forecasted to grow by 1.5% to 3.5% in 2019. The pace of economic expansion will ease in 2019, in part due to repercussions from the ongoing trade conflict between the US and its key trading partners. The tightening of global financial conditions could also result in some pullback in investments and slower consumption growth, amid falling business and consumer confidence. We expect these trends to impact several key sectors in Singapore.

The manufacturing sector will most likely experience the slowest growth in 2019. Due to weaker conditions in the semiconductor market, electronics and precision engineering clusters will likely report reduced activities. Outward-oriented service sectors (i.e. wholesale trade, supply chain, finance and insurance) are also projected to ease in tandem with the moderation expected in key economies.

The robust global demand for innovative solutions means that the information technology and communications sector will remain resilient in this volatile market. As the chosen regional home of many global technology firms and launchpad for several startups, Singapore will continue to develop and serve quality digital tools and solutions to the global consumer market. Healthcare institutions are also expected to see a boost in operations and facilities, with a greater focus on preventive care and home-care.

Even though the market outlook is a cautionary one, there is still possibility that 2019 could be another year of strong, positive growth. That said, we would advise job seekers not to be complacent but take this time instead to upskill and ensure their employability. Employers, on the other hand, need to look at creating a positive employee experience to retain their best talent, by investing in their wellbeing and career development.

conservative salary by better benefits

The time of high salaries, attractive bonuses and hard-to-turn-down counter offers may soon be over.

Economists are predicting that the strong wage growth we saw in 2018 may not continue as the economic growth is expected to moderate. Trade-related sectors such as finance and supply chain may even reduce their headcount due to the uncertainties in the global marketplace.

The economic restructuring will see companies take recourse in workforce planning. One option is to tilt their workforce composition towards having more contractors who can help strategise or execute short-term projects to achieve immediate objectives.

Another strategy to consider is taking an employee-first approach. By investing in the right tools that will encourage collaboration and a flexible workforce, companies are essentially building the foundation for work-life balance and personal development to take place. Collaborative technology not only enables employees to have more autonomy at work, it has also proven to increase staff’s creativity and productivity as they would need to find ways to work remotely, yet deliver the same or better quality of work. Having the right digital solutions that enable flexible work also allow employees to reach out to experts within the organisation and easily track their progress through project-sharing tools.

Through these efforts, companies will be able to attract experienced professionals who are eager to share their expertise and knowledge with their colleagues, as well as the younger generation who are looking for more autonomy and flexibility at work.

lifelong learning is the only way forward

2019 will be a good time for job seekers to review their capabilities and identify areas where they would need to upskill. While companies are still hiring, their recruitment strategy has become more specific, with more looking to hire professionals who have the niche skills to hit the ground running and get the job done.

As part of the ongoing restructuring exercises, companies are also evaluating the skills within their current workforce to ensure that they have the right capabilities and highly-skilled experts to achieve business objectives.

Companies are also increasingly investing in new automation tools that promise better productivity and efficacy. This means that candidates who are digitally-adept or have specialised skills in developing and integrating new technologies will be highly sought-after. The existing workforce have to be trained to navigate the new digital space where technology will play a more active role than before.

Even though acquiring new skills or seeking a new career may seem overwhelming for most people, we advise job seekers to adopt a more proactive approach to life-long learning to stay employable.

This will require a passionate commitment to learning and a proactive attitude towards building their expertise in the digital-led world. For instance, employees should regularly conduct an honest evaluation of their career development roadmap to identify the new skills they will need to acquire to stay competitive, or gaps that need to be filled to improve their future career prospects. The workforce should also keep close tabs on the latest employment trends and be open to different perspectives.

candidates should constantly challenge the status quo by asking the following questions:

  • Is your job at risk of automation?
  • How much of your job scope can be replaced by a machine?
  • What are some of the tasks that a machine cannot perform?
  • What are some of your transferable skills that can bring more value in the face of digital transformation?
  • What are some of the new skills that you will need to acquire to remain employable either in your current role or in another position within the organisation?

Human resource teams are advised to work closely with different functions within the organisation to identify skills gaps as well as opportunities for growth. Learning and development teams are encouraged to gain a deeper understanding of the market’s demands for skills and develop robust training programmes that are relevant to the staff’s development. However, a significant part of that responsibility ultimately lies with the employees themselves to ensure their employability in the long term.

This year, we have decided to focus our outlook on three areas where we see most changes and growth - information technology and communications, life sciences as well as digital marketing. We hope that these outlooks will not only help plan your workforce strategy to prepare for the future but also think about the type of talent you would need to ensure resilience in 2019.

download market outlook 2019