The tech layoffs have without a doubt reached Singapore's shores. Manpower minister Tan See Leng said in parliament recently that MOM has received notices of retrenchment for 1,270 resident workers from tech companies from July to mid-November 2022.
Around eight in 10 of these affected workers were in non-tech roles such as marketing, sales, and corporate functions.
Around seven in 10 were aged 35 and below. According to Tan, this is consistent with the low median age of employed residents in the information and communications sector. As of June this year, Singapore's information and communications sector employed 136,100 residents. This number has increased steadily over the past five years, growing by an average of 8,100 resident workers per year from June 2017 to June 2022.
In comparison, Tan said retrenchment numbers over the past five years have been relatively low, at an average of 790 resident workers per year. Also, citing available labour market, Tan said 260 residents were retrenched in the first half of this year, as compared to the increase of 7,000 residents employed in the sector.
Without a doubt, this has been a trying time for the tech community. Social media giant Meta cut 11,000 jobs recently including employees from departments such as politics and government outreach, content design, product marketing, creative strategy, learning and development, news partnerships, employer branding and recruitment marketing, and recruiting. Some of them were based in Singapore.
Likewise, Twitter's Singapore team was also impacted when Elon Musk cut 3,700 out of 7,500 jobs after he acquired the company. Individuals from the Asia Pacific communications team were impacted.
More recently, tech-enabled Flash Coffee laid off individuals in Singapore and Indonesia too, including those from communications, social media and design. At the same time, Shopee also made several cuts to its team in Singapore and marketing was also impacted.
Forrester VP, principal analyst J.P. Gownder previously said that top tech talent who lose their jobs will find other positions. "People with high skills are still in demand and difficult to hire,” he said, adding “other layoffs in tech companies come from jobs (like recruiting) that are in less demand”. As such, these workers might have a harder time finding new positions.
According to manpower minister Tan See Leng, most workers from Singapore's information and communications sector have been able to secure a job soon after retrenchment.
In Q2 2022, the rate of re-entry into employment within six months post-retrenchment for residents in the sector was higher than in the overall economy, for both tech and non-tech workers.
"This suggests that retrenched non-tech workers had also found employment opportunities across the information and communications sector and the larger economy," he said. Tan added that job vacancies in the information and communications sector have also continued to rise in the first half of this year, from 11,100 in December 2021 to 12,100 in June 2022.
According to him, this latest figure is more than triple the 3,800 vacancies in June 2020. In addition, other sectors such as financial services, including local banks, are also hiring for tech roles. "Taken together, this reflects that there is strong supportive capacity across the larger economy and opportunities for affected workers to fill in-demand roles," Tan said.
Furthermore, half of the retrenching tech firms between July and mid-November 2022 have engaged outplacement partners or tapped on their industry networks to provide career transition services for their affected workers. In addition, the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, comprising representatives from Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, is also reaching out to all affected local employees, including the youths, Tan said.
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