How COVID-19 is affecting hiring in Singapore
The outbreak of Covid-19 has dampened Singapore’s economy. Therefore, many firms are slowing down their hiring process, while some of them are showing signs to consider revising their hiring plans for the next year.
The official growth forecast of Singapore for the year 2020 has been downgraded because of the virus outbreak. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) stated that they are expecting a full-year GDP growth between 0.5 to 1.5 percent. Their current forecast is lower than that of November 2019’s prediction of 2.5 percent.
Singapore has faced such a situation during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 – where the economy slowed down during the peak of the crisis. However, the country had continued its efforts to tackle the crisis and as time passed, Singapore saw a full-year GDP of 4.5%
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Even though economists are quite unsure whether the country’s economy will rise and recover as quickly as it did before, they are quite certain that Singapore is headed for a slower economic growth instead of a recession. In addition to this, MTI’s general secretary Mr. Lim said that in the advent of Covid-19, the ministry’s economic growth outlook for even Eurozone and United States remains unchanged.
According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), companies are now putting workers on shorter workweeks or temporary layoffs in order to reduce labor costs, with a possibility of retrenchment once the situation becomes better. MAS further said that the slower growth caused by the virus outbreak has thus so far been absorbed by the companies rather than passing on to labor market.
As more and more companies are now delaying the hiring process and limiting international travel, a lot of them are opting for modern methods of communication. Therefore, many firms are now conducting interviews online and using video conference tools instead of meeting in person. Despite these temporary obstacles, the recruiters are quite optimistic looking at the slow spread of the virus and the quick recovery of the patients infected by the virus.
Apart from the slow pace in the hiring process, many recruiters are of the view that it is still relatively early to see hiring freeze from any company and economists believe that the government’s measures in the 2020 budget would help the companies affected by the outbreak. As the real impact of the crisis would only be seen when the hiring plans would be revised, Singapore is yet to see any kind of hiring freeze.
It comes as a relief to many companies knowing that the Singapore government has set aside measures to keep workers in jobs, help companies with their cash flow and provide additional financial support for sectors directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This announcement has lifted public spirits in general with the country uniting together to tackle this downturn.
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