SINGAPORE - UP 4.4 per cent last year, with high demand for service and sales workers, associate professionals and technicians, professionals, as well as cleaners, labourers and related workers.

That was the big picture from the Job Vacancies 2012 report released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

Job vacancies

  • 2012: 56,400
  • 2011: 54,000

Highest demand

Service and sales workers (12,430 or 24 per cent of total vacancies) were the most sought after. This reflected a strong demand for shop sales assistants, waiters, security guards, food service counter attendants, cashiers and ticket clerks, said the report.


Services continued to account for the majority (78 per cent or 41,110) of job openings last year, mainly in community, social and personal services (12,210 or 23 per cent).

There were also many vacancies in accommodation and food services (6,490 or 12 per cent), wholesale and retail trade (6,160 or 12 per cent), and administrative and support services (4,420 or 8.4 per cent).

Across educational levels

Vacancies according to qualifications needed:

  • Up to primary level: 25 per cent
  • Lower secondary: 10.7 per cent
  • Secondary: 19 per cent
  • Post-Secondary (Non-Tertiary): 7.3 per cent
  • Diploma and professional qualifications: 19 per cent
  • University degrees: 19 per cent

Positions unfilled for six months


  • 2012: 20,930
  • 2011: 18,230

The rise in positions unfilled for six months reflected the tight labour market and moderation in inflow of foreign workers, said the report. Six in 10 of the openings were vacant for less than six months.

Hard-to-fill vacancies could be due to genuine skills shortages or job-specific conditions, like shift work.

The bulk (17,270 or 83 per cent) of these openings were for non-PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, and technicians), led by service and sales workers (6,660 or 32 per cent of these vacancies) and cleaners, labourers & related workers (4,650 or 22 per cent)

Vacancies hard to fill by locals

With the labour market near full employment, employers reported difficulties in hiring locals for two in three (66 per cent) or 34,760 of the vacancies in 2012.

Nurses had the top occupational vacancies for PMETs with 340 vacancies, while shop sales assistants topped the list for non-PMETs with 2,350 vacancies.

Why locals do not take these jobs*

Reflecting the predominance of lower-end occupations among the hard-to-fill vacancies, the top five reasons for not being able to hire local workers were:

*According to the employers surveyed

  • 49 per cent - Find pay unattractive
  • 34 per cent - Find the working environment not conducive
  • 42 per cent - Find the job physically strenuous
  • 30 per cent - Prefer not to do shift work
  • 26 per cent - Lack the right personality traits, work attitude & motivation for the job

Source: Job Vacancies, 2012, Manpower Research and Statistics Department, The Ministry of Manpower