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18 Nov 2009

Vol.2 (En)

Job ADs hints increase, wage cut restoration awaits confirmation

SDS November - the time of the year where most of us will expect to see showers as we enter the so-called rainy season in Singapore. This time of the year is also when employees usually anticipated year-end bonus payouts - putting a hold on most career-changing plans. This is also the time of the year where the job market usually come to a lull.

The good news for job seekers is that, classified ads for job market is expected to increase as it was reported to have shown growth by recent studies. The Straits Times announced on 3rd Nov 2009 that Job ads were up 6 percent in October this year with 321 pages compared with 303 in October last year. UOB Kay Hian's analyst study reported that the increase in job ads has helped the total advertisement revenue to be recovered back to last year's level. Ms Elsie Chua, a marketing division executive vice-president of a leading advertisement firm, mentioned that more job vacancies are showing in the manufacturing and financial sectors. She cited the example of Vestas, a global company dealing with modern energy management, who are planning to recruit a whole new team of technical researchers. However, she made an observation that there were only 4 saturdays in last year's October, as compared to 5 in this year's October. As such, comparing the increase in job ads between this year's and last's October may not be as simple and clear as it may seem.

Job ads increase has given hint to a positive turn in the employment situation in Singapore. Hence, many employees, affected by wage cuts applied by some local firms earlier in the year, are looking forward to having their wage cuts restored soon. For example, Parkway Holdings - a medical company, already reinstated pay cuts for their staff a few months ago. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made an announcement to the media (before the Apec Meeting) on 3rd Nov, implying that Singapore's current positive economic situation is not a dynamic recovery, but that it seems that there are signs showing our economy stabilising. According to an article in Straits Times dated 6th Nov, out of a survey taken from 11 companies, only 2 (MediaCorp and Apex-Pal International) are currently planning to take positive actions in restoring staff wage cuts. The same article highlighted that Knight Frank, a property firm, is planning to review the company's situation at the end of this month, and if the results are good, they intend to not only restore their staff's salary, but will also reimburse staff for pay taken since May. CapitaLand, who carried out salary cuts since January this year, will stay status quo and monitor the economy closely, intending to reinstate salaries when they are certain that the industry recovery is firm. UOB bank will also maintain their salary-cut policy until next year's review between January and March. In another study done by Singapore Manufacturers' Federation (SMa), a quarter of the 50 companies surveyed implemented wage cut policies, and are still procrastinating to restore salary for staff. So it seems the restoration of wage cuts will have to wait.

There is a proverb in Japan saying "A Storm will Clear the Air" which means that things will usually turn for the better after a shakeup. By the time the rainy season is over, those initiatives taken during the bad economy days, should hopefully become unnecessary. Singapore is often regarded to be robust against economy threats. Recent rays of hope are beginning to keep us secretly confident that the rain will eventually come to an end. I am sure that when the skies are clear after the rainy season, not only wage cuts will be restored, but job markets will become stronger again.