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More foreign workers axed last year than in 2013

More foreign workers were laid off in Singapore last year, as companies pushed on with restructuring their businesses, said the Ministry of Manpower on Thursday.


MORE foreign workers were laid off in Singapore last year, as companies pushed on with restructuring their businesses, said the Ministry of Manpower on Thursday.

The number of layoffs among them jumped from 4,050 in 2013 to 5,690 in 2014.

Fewer resident workers - Singaporeans and Permanent Residents - were axed. Their numbers slipped from 7,520 in 2013 to 7,240 last year, pushing down their share of redundancy from 65 to 56 per cent, after two years of increase.

The report, entitled Redundancy And Re-Entry Into Employment, 2014, pointed out that, at 56 per cent, their share of redundancy was lower than their proportion in the total workforce, which stood at two-thirds last year.

Business restructuring and the drive for higher productivity accounting for nearly a third (32 per cent) of the total redundancies.

Reorganisation of businesses led to almost a quarter (24 per cent), and poor business or business failure, a fifth (22 per cent), said the report.

Overall, however, the number of workers made redundant in 2014 still jumped from 11,560 workers in 2013 to 12,930. This worked out to 5.8 per 1,000 workers for 2013 and 6.3 per 1,000 workers last year.

These numbers were still below the recessionary highs of 2008 and 2009 - 16,880 and 23,430 respectively, or 10.6 per 1,000 and 14.2 per 1,000.

And, thanks to a job market that remained tight, resident workers laid off last year quickly landed new jobs, half of them within a month, said the report.

By sector, the jump in redundancy last year was mainly in services. The number in this sector rose from 5,430 in 2013 to 7,260, mainly in wholesale & retail and professional services.

This was followed by the construction sector, which was hit by a decline in private-sector projects. The numbers there rose from 1,120 to 1,690.

Layoffs fell in manufacturing from 5,000 to 3,970. But this export-oriented sector remained the most likely to be hit by redundancy; 10 in 1,000 workers in manufacturing were axed, against 5.3 per 1,000 for construction and 5.5 per cent 1,000 for services.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) still made up more than half the workers made redundant last year, but their share in the overall redundancy dipped from 56 per cent in 2013 to 51 per cent. Most of them were in their 30s and 40s and tertiary-educated.

Still, PMETs, with 7.1 per 1,000 workers made redundant, were again more likely to be laid off than clerical, sales & service (4.4 per 1,000) workers, as well as production & related workers (6.3 per 1,000).

As in the past years, three quarters of the companies which laid off workers in 2014 were of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

On re-entry into employment, the report noted that most of the resident workers made redundant last year were back at work in six months, improving the rate of re-entry into employment for a third straight quarter to 59 per cent in December.

The report said that, within a longer - 12-month - time frame, 68 per cent of residents who had been made redundant in the first three quarters of last year had re-entered employment by December.

This was better than the re-entry rate of the 2013 cohort, which was 66 per cent.

The higher re-entry rates in 2014 held for all workers, but more so for non-PMETs, who were re-hired faster than PMETs.

Re-entry rates improved for two groups of resident workers - those aged below 30 and those 50 and up, though the older group continued to lag their younger counterparts in finding new employment.

More than two-thirds of resident workers made redundant in the first nine months of 2014, and who found new jobs by year-end, found themselves in an industry different from where they last worked.

The report said: "The tendency to switch industry was higher for those laid off from professional services, information & communications and manufacturing."


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