Singapore job offers canceled amid recession, recruiters say


The office crowd at Raffles Place on June 2, 2020.

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – Job seekers in Singapore are seeing signed employment contracts rescinded as businesses cut back on hiring during the coronavirus pandemic-triggered recession, recruiters say.

There was a spike in cases of companies canceling job offers in late March and early April, said Rob Bryson, managing director of recruitment agency Robert Walters Singapore. Unlike the global financial crisis, when most jobs affected by the downturn were in banking, industries now taking a knock include retail and aerospace, according to Nilay Khandelwal, managing director at Michael Page Singapore.

There are no hard figures to show how widespread the practice is, but the comments reflect uncertainty about business prospects as the city-state endures its worst recession on record.

A government report on Wednesday (July 29) will likely show the jobless rate rose to 2.9 per cent in the second quarter, the highest since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. Euben Paraceulles, an economist at Nomura Holdings, estimates the rate could reach 4.5 per cent in the second half of this year.

Paul Hoon, 44, said he resigned from his job in early June after signing a contract to be a regional supplier quality manager with a US-based company that designs and builds commercial fans. The day before he was due to start, the company informed him it had “ceased” the contract because of the economic blow from Covid-19.

Derrick Lim also lost out on a new job: The Singaporean said he was offered a job as a customer experience manager at a car dealership company at the end of February, but the human resources general manager later advised him to rejoin his previous firm. It took 14 job interviews before he found a new position, he said.

Michael Page’s Mr Khandelwal said businesses are canceling jobs in regional sales and talent acquisition, although “bright spots” still remain in technology, especially developer roles.

Mr Bryson, of Robert Walters recruiters, said there’s been a general downturn in hiring and a slowdown in the process. Businesses “will only start the hiring process if they have a clear internal mandate to do so, rather than making speculative hires,” he said.

Read the latest on the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and beyond on our dedicated site here.

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