The preferences of jobseekers in Singapore for remote work remain at odds with the attitudes of employers, according to a recent analysis by leading jobs portal Indeed. While jobseekers continue to show keen interest in remote work opportunities, employers are far less likely to mention phrases such as ‘work from home’ or ‘remote work’ in their job advertisements.

In May, only 6.6% of job postings explicitly included phrases related to remote work in their job descriptions. Although this figure has gradually increased this year, it still falls significantly below the levels observed in late 2021. In contrast, the interest from jobseekers in remote work remains high, with 3.5% of all job searches specifically using keywords related to remote work.

Callam Pickering, APAC Senior Economist at Indeed, highlighted the disconnect between employers and jobseekers regarding remote work preferences. He remarked, “Jobseekers continue to value the flexibility offered by remote work. It’ll be interesting to see whether this apparent disconnect between employers and jobseekers hampers the ability of some employers to attract suitable candidates going forward.”

The data on job postings in Singapore for May revealed a decline of 1.2% compared to the previous month, marking the seventh consecutive monthly decrease. Consequently, job postings were 16.5% lower than the figures recorded a year ago. Despite this decline, job postings are still at 1.7 times the level observed before the onset of the pandemic in September 2021.

Pickering predicted a continued moderation in job postings over the remainder of the year, citing a slowdown in economic conditions as a contributing factor. The contraction of Singapore’s economy in the first quarter has led to a tangible impact on the jobs market, even though the country’s unemployment rate remains low at 1.8%. However, it is expected to increase slightly over the coming months.

The analysis also provided insights into specific occupational categories. While there have been some small pockets of improved hiring, such as a nearly 34% rise in childcare postings and a 22% increase in security & public safety roles, postings in only 16% of occupational categories were higher than they were three months ago.

A significant portion of the recent weakness was concentrated in the healthcare sector. Postings for pharmacy roles saw a substantial decline of 38% over the past three months, with dental (-33%), veterinary (-24%), and physicians & surgeons (-22%) roles also experiencing considerable reductions. Even nursing postings tumbled by 6.3%.

Despite the overall decline in job postings, it’s worth noting that job postings for every occupational category are still above pre-pandemic levels. The extent of this variance varies across sectors, from pharmacy, where job postings are still three times higher than before the pandemic despite recent declines, to mathematics, where postings remain a slim 7.3% above pre-pandemic levels.

Pickering reiterated that Singapore’s labor market remains tight with strong demand for workers and low unemployment. However, the continuous decline in job posting volumes over the past seven months suggests a more challenging economic environment. A potential global slowdown may further contribute to the decline in job postings throughout the rest of the year.

As the landscape of work continues to evolve, the divide between jobseeker preferences and employer practices surrounding remote work will be a key factor to watch in the coming months. Employers who adapt to the changing needs and expectations of jobseekers may find themselves better positioned to attract and retain top talent in Singapore’s competitive job market.

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