Jan 19, 2009

30,000 jobs this year


THERE will be more than 30,000 jobs created this year, enough to absorb the pool of fresh graduates and new job seekers, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on Monday.

He gave this assurance when replying to labour MP Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC) who asked for the total number of new jobs expected this year.

Noting that it is tough to give job projections due to the evolving economy, Mr Lim said: 'There will be significant number of jobs, sufficient to cater school leavers, more than 30,000 jobs all in.'

Each year, there are usually 30,000 new job seekers looking for work.

The job forecast is, however, much bleaker than the last two boom years when annual job creation exceeded 200,000.

This year's figures includes the Economic Development Board's latest update of 6,000 new jobs from new investments coming on stream this year.

It also takes into account jobs in sectors that are still hiring, such as construction, healthcare and the public service.

The Ministry of Education is recruiting more than 7,000 teachers and support staff this year, while the Ministry of Home Affairs is looking to fill more than 1,000 vacancies.

The Ministry of Defence is also hiring workers, announcing on Monday that it has over 2,000 openings this year.

But the jobs gains this year could be wiped out by job losses, which could match the high of 30,000 in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

Acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong, in a separate reply, said: 'If our economy were to contract sharply this year, it is possible that retrenchments could reach these levels seen in previous recessions.'

In fact, retrenchments had risen significantly in the fourth quarter of last year.

Based on early notifications by companies which cut jobs, about 4,800 workers were laid off between last October and December, and another 3,300 could face the same fate over the next few months, said Mr Gan.

This means total retrenchments for last year is at least 11,218, higher than the annual average of 10,000.

The final tally will only be known when the Manpower Ministry releases figures towards the end of the month.