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Career Q&A - What job market reports should I read to guide my career planning?

I see lots of market and job related reports online and it gets overwhelming and confusing at times. How do I read the job and work trends properly so that I can plan for my career? ~ Jake, Bank Manager

Reading and interpreting economic reports and trends is important as it allows us to see further into the industry and economic horizon and prepare ourselves to stay relevant and adaptable to future changes. It is a critical activity in the process of our career development.

However, with so many sources of information, how can we make sense of what to read and how to read them? Here are 3 ways for you to get acquainted and familiarised with industry and economic reports.

Understanding recent past trends

Past trend reports about workforce employment, unemployment, retrenching and recruiting industry numbers are regularly monitored by government agencies. In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower issues a quarterly labour market report and compiles an annual labour market survey which provides these information. As the reports are compiled on past data, it helps us look back, make sense and understand what has happened to our industries and our workforce.

If you are looking to plan your career and wondering whether to make a job change, look out for these indicators as a guide to how the labour market is performing.

Unemployment Figure and Rate - this shows the number of people who are unemployed. A high number here means increased job search competition as more people compete for the same job.

Jobs to Worker Ratio - this shows the ratio of the number of available jobs to the number of unemployed workers. A ratio that exceeds 1 means there are more available jobs than available workers.

Recruitment and Resignation Rates - this is a sensing of the movement of manpower across jobs. A higher rate signals increased hiring and job switching appetites.

Long Term Unemployed (LTU) Rate - this shows the number of people who are unemployed for more than 6 months. A growing rate signals possible difficulty faced by people in securing jobs, due to factors such as skills mismatch or slow hiring.

Retrenchment and Re-entry into Work Rates - this shows a trend of retrenchments in Singapore and how many of the retrenched people move into new jobs within 6 months. The high re-entry rate signals a strong economy to provide jobs to those displaced.

Looking into near term trends

Private sector firms like LinkedIn, Robert Walters, Randstad conduct their own salary and jobs hiring surveys to help them understand organisations' hiring sentiments and needs. These surveys are made into outlook reports and made available to companies who want to make near term plans and formulate business and hiring strategies for their human capital. As the reports are developed to guide decision making, it helps us as a guide to know what to expect in the near term so they do cover aspects such as emerging jobs, emerging skills, jobs in demand, growth industries. Do note that some of the reports may cover more than Singapore companies and may be focused on specific industries, not all jobs, so make sure you read the report coverage to know what countries, sectors and employers are covered.

If you are looking to plan your career and wondering how to do your industry research, you can refer to some of these reports as a guide (there are more, but these are the common ones that are often mentioned in the media).

Robert Walters Salary Survey - Provides information about salary ranges, growing industries and job demand.

Randstad Labour Pulse Survey - Provides an overview of sentiments towards job change, motivators for change.

Manpower Group Quarterly Employment Outlook - Provides information about growing industries and hiring trends.

Mercer Global Talent Trends Report - Provides information about growing industries, hiring trends.

LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise Report - Provides a summary of growing industries and in demand jobs for various nations.

Projecting long term trends

For longer term structural changes to industries, we need to be guided by strategy reports put out by industry associations, private consultancy think tanks and global bodies and local governments. In Singapore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for the economic strategies and attracting investments. These efforts shape how the future of the economy looks like and impacts the jobs and opportunities that arise from the changes. Knowing these changes allow us to prepare ourselves in terms of knowing how our jobs, our companies, our businesses will change and also signal to us how we should change and adapt too.

If you are planning your career and would like a longer term view, here are some reports and resources to refer to.

World Economic Forum Jobs of the Future Report - Provides an international look at economic, workforce changes and trends

Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore Industry Transformation Maps - Provides a local look into Singapore economic strategy and structural industry changes impacted by technology. Each transformation map comes with a reference to skills frameworks (produced by SkillsFuture Singapore) to guide you in the recommended skills for each job within the industry.

Future of work reports by think tank consultancy companies like McKinsey, PWC, Deloitte - provides a long term range of alternative economic scenarios emerging out of global trends.

Now that you know the range of reports and information to consume and consider towards your career planning, it is important to validate what you are reading. Make the effort to speak to people within the industries and jobs that you are keen on. Use the power of professional networking tool LinkedIn to help you connect and reach people to learn from and validate your understanding. Use the knowledge to also plan ahead for your learning needs.

At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you.


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