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Jobs Situation Report 9th Edition

Close to 3,600 Opportunities in the Retail Sector; Good mix of opportunities with push to support employment of senior workers

1. This week’s Jobs Situation Report features the opportunities in the retail sector. Besides opportunities for fresh graduates and mid-career workers, we will also provide an update on the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant (SW EAG), Part-time Re-employment Grant (PTRG) and Revised Tripartite Guidelines (TG) on the Re-employment of Older Employees.

Rethinking Retail, Redesigning Jobs

2. Although the retail sector had already started its digital transformation, COVID-19 was still a tipping point. As footfall fell, many retailers started to prioritise building their online presence and quickly pivoted to e-commerce platforms to continue expanding their customer base. This includes adopting technologies such as live streaming platforms and virtual reality mirrors to continue engaging with customers.

3. 10.9% of the total retail sales value in August 2020 comprised online sales. In subsectors such as Computer & Telecommunications Equipment, almost 50% of the subsector’s total retail sales were online. Even after the Circuit Breaker, some companies continued to grow their sales faster through online platforms. This reflects the longer-term trend of omni-channel retailing.

4. Besides capitalising on the growth potential of e-commerce, retailers also need to move along with changes in consumer preferences. For example:

  1. Many consumers expect a more seamless and fulfilling shopping experience – shopping is no longer just transactional, as consumers seek to identify with the brands.
  2. Consumers are also placing more emphasis on sustainable consumption, with more preferring products from sustainable sources.

Retrenchments Moderated Through Job Redesign Reskilling Programme

5. To keep up with and cater to the changes in consumption habits, retailers not only need to innovate new products and offerings, but also develop a workforce with the right skillsets to take on the next phase of growth for the retail sector. This includes redesigning and creating higher value-added jobs that are augmented by technology and new retail formats.

6. To support retailers’ job redesign and business transformation efforts, WSG rolled out the Job Redesign Reskilling Programme in October 2019, where retailers can equip existing workers with new skills that allow them to quickly take on new or enhanced roles as a result of the business transformation.

  1. For instance, before the pandemic, many of the Retail Associates roles were focused on driving sales in-store. As the pandemic drove more retail activities online, companies’ emphasis on brand awareness and reliance on online systems grew, and many started to redesign their customer touchpoints.
  2. Now, the systems are automatically updated across online and physical stores, reducing the number of manual tasks.
  3. The Retail Associates will in turn have more time to analyse data from the Point of Sales and Customer Relationship Management systems to study the top trending products and provide more customised service.
  4. To increase brand awareness, some of them are also involved in creating product content on social media platforms and are being trained to do so.

7. The programme was enhanced in February 2020 to address the changing market conditions due to COVID-19. This initiative has helped to moderate retrenchments while helping retailers retain experienced staff.

8. As of end-August 2020, more than 550 existing workers across 37 retailers have been, or are being, trained and redeployed into new or higher-value job roles through the programme.

  1. 40% of them will receive a committed wage increment from the employers after completing the training.
  2. Employers have committed to reviewing the wages for the remaining 60% after the COVID-19 situation has stabilised.

SGUnited Jobs and Skills Opportunities in the Retail Sector

9. More than 650 companies in the retail sector have offered close to 3,600 opportunities since April 2020, 70% of which are jobs (see Chart 1 below).

Chart 1

10. Around 60% of the job roles are non-PMET jobs such as Shop and Store Salespersons. These are necessary to meet immediate manpower needs for Front-of-House operations as retail stores resumed post-circuit breaker.

11. The remaining 40% are PMET roles such as Sales, Marketing and Business Development Managers, Retail and Wholesale Trade Managers and Commercial and Marketing Sales Executives. This reflects that retailers also appreciate the need to build and sustain their branding and online presence in the longer-term.

12. Major roles in the retail sector can command salaries ranging from $1,400 at the lower end of the salary range for non-PMET roles, to $6,500 at the higher end of the salary range for PMET roles (see Chart 2).

Chart 2

Matching jobseekers to opportunities in the Retail Sector

13. To increase the number of successful matches to opportunities in the Retail sector, employers and jobseekers can tap on various government initiatives to close skills gaps. These include WSG’s programmes such as Professional Conversion Programme, P-Max Programme and Career Trial, as well as those under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

14. For example, given the increase in demand for digital professionals in the sector, employers hiring mid-career individuals can participate in WSG’s six-month-long Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Digital Professionals. Jobseekers less familiar with customer-facing roles can also participate in WSG’s six-month-long PCP for Retail Professionals.

15. One of them is 44-year-old April Peck from All Watches Pte Ltd.

  1. Having worked in backend logistics and wholesale functions, April wanted to expand her repertoire of skills and venture into other aspects of retail. She decided to switch from to retail and joined All Watches as their Retail Operations Manager in December 2019.
  2. Instead of staying behind the scenes, April had to quickly adapt to customer-facing tasks in her new role and create a pleasant shopping experience for the customers. She also oversees the day-to-day operations of all outlets.
  3. To help her assimilate into her new role, the company placed her in the PCP for Retail Professionals in March 2020, which gave her fresh perspective on the everchanging landscape of retail and equipped her with service leadership, sales target management, omni-channel retailing and customer services skills.
  4. During the Circuit Breaker, April led her team to quickly pivot to social media platforms to continue engaging customers through virtual events.
  5. April now enjoys her new job at the front-of-house and looks forward to a rewarding career in retail.

16. Besides career conversion programmes, jobseekers who may not have the necessary skills but are interested to join the sector can also participate in company-hosted traineeships and attachments under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme. They can also enrol in training courses under the SGUnited Skills Programme offered in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (SIRS).

17. In fact, between April and September 2020, 770 individuals have been placed into jobs, enhanced roles, company-hosted traineeships and attachments as well training opportunities in retail sector. Most of them (700) either found jobs or were able to retain their job in new or enhanced roles within retail. Since 1 June 2020, 70 jobseekers have enrolled in company-hosted traineeships and attachments such as Retail Analyst, Business Development Associate (e-Commerce), Omni-Channel Sports Leader-in-Training, Training Store Manager, Management Trainee and Retail Assistant.

18. One of them is 22-year-old Shandy Kok, who joined SK Jewellery as a Merchandising Trainee in August 2020.

  1. Fresh out of university with a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Shandy had set her sights on joining the Retail sector upon graduation.
  2. Unfortunately, her job search hit a snag amid the tepid job market and she started casting her net wider.
  3. Today, Shandy is about two months into her traineeship where she is picking up skills in basic store merchandising and managing promotional and seasonal campaigns. Under the guidance of her supervisors, one of her first assignments was to use data analytics to identify consumer trends.
  4. Shandy hopes to continue performing well in her traineeship and impress prospective employers with her can-do, open attitude.

19. Jobseekers interested to take on similar roles in e-commerce and merchandising can refer to Table 1 below on the transferable skills as well as skills that will enhance career prospects for such roles, which tend to be in greater demand as businesses remodel themselves to align with consumers’ interests.

Table 1

Intensifying Overall Matching Efforts

20. In September 2020, WSG reached out to about 13,600 jobseekers through walk-in interviews, career workshops and seminars, SGUnited Jobs and Skills Information Kiosks and SGUnited Jobs and Skills Series. Jobseekers were able to find out more about the various opportunities available under the SGUJS, meet with hiring employers, and access guidance and advice to improve their techniques and make job search more efficient and effective at these events.

Stronger push for senior employment with new grants

21. Nearly one in three persons employed in retail is aged 55 and above, making it one of the top sectors employing senior workers.

22. To promote age-friendly HR practices, funding support of up to $375,000 is available to each employer through the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant (SW EAG) and Part-time Re-employment Grant (PTRG). The grants, which were introduced as part of the $1.3 billion Senior Worker Support Package, opened for applications on 1 July 2020. In the first three months of applications, close to 650 and 440 companies applied for the SW EAG and PTRG respectively. Almost all were SMEs, including those in the retail sector. These companies employ about 37,000 employees who will progressively benefit from the enhanced HR practices. More information on the grants can be found in Annex C.

Revised Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees

23. The Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees was first released in 2011 to guide employers and employees on good re-employment practices. To reflect recommendations made by the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers last year, the tripartite partners have also updated the Guidelines, with the following key changes:

  1. Part-time Re-employment. Employers get guidance on re-employing senior workers on a part-time basis, should the workers request it.
  2. Progressive employers. Employers are encouraged to raise their internal retirement and re-employment ages above the statutory requirements.
  3. Structured Career Planning Sessions. Employers are encouraged to adopt a forward-looking approach in guiding employees on their career development, including through Structured Career Planning Sessions.
  4. Job redesign. Employers are encouraged to embark on job redesign to effect organisation-wide and system-levels changes and build more age-friendly workplaces, so as to increase the number of older workers who can perform their jobs effectively.
  5. Employer-provided medical benefits. Employers are advised on how they can restructure medical benefits to be more sustainable.

For more information

24. To find out more about:

  1. Immediate job opportunities in the Retail sector under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, please visit www.go.gov.sg/mcfretail.
  2. WSG’s programmes and career advisory and matching services, please visit www.mycareersfuture.gov.sg/careercoaching (QR code below) or call WSG’s hotline at 6883 5885.
  3. SSG’s SGUnited Skills programmes, jobseekers can visit https://www.myskillsfuture.sg/sgunitedskills.
  4. SSG’s Skills and Training Advisory services, jobseekers can visit https://www.myskillsfuture.sg/content/portal/en/career-resources/career-resources/education-career-personal-development/skills-training-advice.html
  5. Upcoming engagement and outreach events organised by NTUC’s e2i and WSG, jobseekers can visit https://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/events.html or https://e2i.com.sg/events/. The list of events for the month of Oct 2020 can also be found in Annex D.

QR code for MyCareersFuture

FOOTNOTE

  1. Source: Department of Statistics Singapore, Retail Sales Index
  2. Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, Manpower Research and Statistics Department, MOM
  3. Some applications are in the midst of processing