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Strong demand for non-PMETs in warehouse logistics as buying habits shift online amid Covid-19

Despite the pandemic’s hit to the economy and labour market, certain sectors are still hiring for a range of non-executive positions.

Warehousing logistics has emerged as the sector with the strongest demand for manpower in non-PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) roles, according to job portal FastJobs’ data.

Based on the volume of job postings in June and last month, after the circuit breaker period, the sector has overtaken retail and hospitality, which occupied the top spots last year.

FastJobs Singapore general manager Lim Huishan said companies, especially smaller players, are starting to hire again after the circuit breaker period.

Ms Angela Ang, group manager at employment firm MCI Career Services, said that with buying habits shifting online, there is a demand for staff in the logistics sector.

“Roles like packers, warehouse assistants and forklift drivers are in demand… Warehouse positions… can garner more than $2,000 in pay, and have become more attractive to candidates nowadays.”

Ms Ang predicts sustained manpower demand in this sector. “In the next few years, manpower in this sector will also continue to be in demand “as it will be some years before the processes are fully automated”.

Hospitality and food and beverage (F&B) came in second, while general production and operators ranked third, followed by cleaning and housekeeping.

Ms Ang said there is increased demand for operators in areas like manufacturing due to border restrictions that resulted in a shortage of workers. “To supplement, companies are also increasing their hiring of short-term contract staff for three to six months. But the salary remains low, with a fixed gross of $1,200 to $1,600, excluding overtime pay or bonuses.”

Other types of non-PMET roles in demand now include techni-cians and those in delivery services and sales.

Since June 2, over 3,000 companies have been posting jobs on the FastJobs portal, an 87 per cent jump from the circuit breaker period that lasted from April 7 to June 1.

The total number of jobs posted from June 2 to July 14 exceeded those posted during the circuit breaker by 41 per cent, said Ms Lim.

But she noted that the F&B and retail sectors, traditionally big hirers, are seeing a dip in activity. However, players such as FairPrice, Dairy Farm Group, Don Don Donki and Beijing 101 continue to have manpower demands.

She said: “As retail stores and F&B started operating in the reopening phase of the economy, employers have needed to employ additional staff to service customers, albeit typically in fewer numbers than they would have previously.”

Overall, the number of companies hiring is about 80 per cent of that for the same period last year.

“While there has been some recovery in the volume of sales, retail and marketing roles being offered, year on year, the number of jobs available has halved. Demand for administrative and clerical staff, one of the most popular sectors with job seekers, has also declined by more than 50 per cent,” Ms Lim observed.

And while the volume of jobs has shrunk, the number of applicants this year is up 25 per cent, she added.

Most sectors also see fluctuations in median salary of about $100. But the median salary advertised for delivery positions hit a high of $2,700 in April, before falling to $2,200 after the circuit breaker period.

Experts said job seekers are willing to accept these fluctuations.

Mr Danny Siah, divisional manager of recruitment agency BGC Group, said: “Most job seekers understand that it is an employer’s market in this climate, where relevant job experience plays the most important role when it comes to salary negotiations. I suppose job seekers are more willing to manage their expectations within a 10 per cent to 20 per cent range from the pre-virus economy, as with salary cuts seen in the current market.”

A spokesman for workforce solutions firm Kelly Services and Capital said: “Given the current condition that brings along uncertainty, we have observed that active job seekers are more flexible and receptive to contingent roles.”

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