Nurses, sales assistants toughest vacancies to fill by locals: MOM statistics

Registered nurse was identified as the top PMET position to fill, while shop sales assistants took the position for non-PMET occupations, according to latest data from the Manpower Ministry.

SINGAPORE: The number of job vacancies rose to 67,400 as of September 2014 - an 8.9 per cent increase from 61,900 in 2013. Registered nurses and shop sales assistants were the toughest positions to fill by locals, according to latest data released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Tuesday (Jan 27).

Of the vacancies, service and sales workers were in keen demand, representing 25 per cent of total vacancies, or 15,330 specifically. The positions included shop sales assistants, security guards and waiters, according to the press release.

In September 2014 itself, four in five of all vacancies were from the services industry. The bulk of vacancies came from community, social and personal services, healthcare and tertiary institutes, it added.


In terms of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), the data showed that registered nurse was in top spot for occupations hard to fill by locals. There were 720 vacancies as at September, with the top reason cited being too much competition from other employers.

Enrolled/assistant nurse with 650 vacancies - and software, web and multimedia developer were in second and third spot respectively. Major reasons for these positions being difficult to fill were unattractive pay, a preference for a shorter work week and a reluctance to do shift work for the former, and lacking necessary work experience for the latter, according to the data.

As for non-PMET positions, shop sales assistants, security guards and waiters were the top three occupations that were hard to fill by locals, MOM stated.

A human resource expert said companies need to offer more competitive pay packages to attract and retain local employees.

Mr Ian Grundy, marketing and communications head for Asia at Adecco, said: “Some companies are struggling to fill vacancies because they are not paying a competitive salary. In a tight labour market like Singapore, you have got to be paying a competitive salary, you have got to be giving good bonus, and you have got to be giving good vacation allowance.

“This is because job seekers have got lots of choice, and if a company is not giving them something that is really attractive, they are going to go somewhere else. And what is happening from that as a result is that we are seeing a lot of jobs left open over a long period time." 

The proportion of vacancies unfilled for at least six months (41 per cent) and those hard to fill by locals (67 per cent) were broadly unchanged from a year ago, as the labour market remained tight, the ministry added.  Mr Grundy expects job vacancies to continue to rise this year. 


- CNA/kk/ms

POSTED: 27 Jan 2015 13:12
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Learn the food lingo: How to order and get what you want in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Over lunch on Thursday, my brother asked me "how do I order 'ji wei fan' in English?".

"Chicken backside rice?" I hazarded.

It just didn't sound as appetising as the euphemistic Mandarin version - "chicken tail" rice.

He settled for normal chicken rice, so as not to hold up the queue with his linguistic conundrum.

A few hours later, I read a blog on The Wall Street Journal by Laura Schwartz on the woes expatriates in Singapore face when ordering food.

In "On finicky expats in Singapore, and their double standards", the Singapore-based Irish writer calls service in Singapore "halfhearted", but also tells her fellow expats, "Perhaps the onus is on expats to learn some new rules, especially in hawker centres."

She offers this advice: "Know what you want to order by the time you get to the front of the line, order (in "Singlish" or Chinese, if necessary), bring your own tissues, pay with cash, and retreat quickly to a table with your meal."

"That should save some eye rolling on both sides," she adds.

I scratch my head. Isn't this the way you always get lunch?

The way she put it, Singapore hawkers seem as demanding as Seinfeld's soup Nazi. And I can't help but reflect that what I always assumed were the pedestrian rituals of food ordering, unthinkingly adhered to, can seem arcane to others.

But what Ms Schwartz lists are just the basics - the minimum required to avoid getting glares from busy hawkers.

The secret lexicon of kopi

There's the minefield of ordering drinks, for example. What does one make of a whole argot devoted to getting a cuppa?

It's so fraught that an acquaintance once used her German boyfriend's ability to order drinks in local parlance as proof he has "integrated".

To be fair, some of us can't keep the terms straight ourselves. Expatriates, remember these terms:

Kopi siu dai - coffee with less sugar

Kopi o kosong - coffee, black, no sugar

Teh see - tea with evaporated milk

Teh tarik - "pulled" tea, a frothy, sweet, milk tea

Tat kiu - Milo

Diao yu - Chinese tea

Michael jackson - Soya bean milk mixed with grass jelly

The list goes on.

The customisation code

Other food shorthand, to bring one's ordering skills to the next level:

Tabao or bungkus - Takeaway (Chinese), takeaway (Malay)

Mai (ingredient) - no/ I don't eat/ I am allergic to (ingredient)

Mai hiam - no chilli (not to be confused with mai hum - no cockles)

Kay (ingredient) - add/ more of/ I love (ingredient)

Kay liao - more of everything

Kay png - more rice

Fan shao - less rice

The code-switching imperative

But it's not just the expatriates who have problems decoding Singaporean quirks.

Singaporeans and long-time residents will notice that moments of cultural confusion are inevitable as our workforce has become more multi-national. And we adapt to immigrants and their ways too.

Sticking to food, the range of cuisine that is available in restaurants and hawker centres here have increased exponentially. The people who serve them come from different parts of the world as well.

My brother had problems translating his order to English, but I have had to help English-speakers relate their needs in Mandarin. I sometimes try both languages to make sure I get what I want.

Code-switching for me used to mean Singlish to standard English and vice versa. It's become multi-dimensional, because the varieties of English you can encounter each day are endless.

It makes you realise that despite Singapore's multi-culturalism, we are still very "Singaporean", and can be quite blind to our own peculiarities.

Sure, sometimes we don't get the chicken parts we want, but I think questioning the assumptions of our cultures, and learning to adapt to others make us better people.

Ultimately, it's a skill we all have to learn in the age of globalisation.

By Chew Hui Min

Adapted from

Making pre-school better: MSF looking into making private operators more cost-efficient

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will look at how private pre-school operators, particularly small ones, can pool resources when it comes to curriculum development and administrative work, says Minister Chan Chun Sing.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is studying ways to get private pre-school operators to become more cost- efficient and increase the quality of education offered, according to Minister Chan Chun Sing on Friday (Jan 2).

He said private operators, particularly small ones, can pool resources when it comes to curriculum development and administrative work. Such a move is expected to allow these operators to become more efficient, lower cost and translate to more affordable fees for parents.

This effort to look at ways to help operators be more cost efficient will form part of the ministry's plans for 2015, said Mr Chan during a visit to a PCF kindergarten in Pasir Ris as the new school year kicks off.

The new school year also marked the start of higher subsidies under the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS).

The ministry said it had received about 9,000 applications so far - exceeding the 8,300 beneficiaries in 2014. Families with gross monthly income of up to S$6,000 can now qualify for the subsidies, compared to S$3,500 previously.

Lower income families will also receive a higher quantum of up to S$170 in fee assistance per month, compared to S$108 previously.

- CNA/kk

POSTED: 02 Jan 2015 13:00

Adapted from