SINGAPORE - Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) remain vulnerable to layoffs, according to a report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

Among occupational groups, PMETs were the second-most vulnerable, after those holding production jobs. The third-most vulnerable group were those in clerical and sales positions.

Last year, about 4,170 PMETs were made redundant - retrenched or released early from contract - up from 3,450 in 2010.

Overall, some 9,990 workers were laid off last year. Due to a rise in layoffs in the fourth quarter last year, the number of employees made redundant was higher than the 9,800 in 2010.

Still, against a larger employment base last year, the rate of redundancies - at 5.5 workers for every 1,000 employees - continued to decline from 5.7 in 2010. Last year's rate is the lowest since 1998, when MOM first released the annual Redundancy And Re-entry Into Employment report.

Mr David Ang, executive director of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said that the rise in the number of PMETs displaced last year could be attributed to restructuring among companies in sectors such as manufacturing and services.

"Sometimes, companies merge or streamline their operations and, in the process, employees working in jobs like sales and marketing may end up losing their jobs," he told my paper.

"There may not be space for these employees, who used to hold positions that have now been combined with those in other departments or removed totally."

This was reflected in the report, which cited restructuring for greater efficiency and increased labour costs as the two main reasons for redundancies.