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Monday, 3 November 2008

Just how safe is your job?

The five riskiest sectors

# Banking and finance

Considering the root of this crisis was in the banking and finance sector, its employees face the biggest risk of layoffs as the industry consolidates.

This difficult period will last for at least one to two years, say analysts.

Investment bankers, stock traders, analysts and bank tellers are particularly vulnerable, compared to those in specific functional roles such as risk, control and operations.

Some financial institutions are also turning to contract hiring as a way to fill back-end positions to keep costs down.

Any jobs considered to be support roles, or non-essential, may also be among the first to go, added analysts.

# Tourism and services

As consumer spending slows in tandem with the economic slide, the services and tourism industry is expected to take a significant hit.

With customers tightening their belts, employers in this sector may have to cut costs by laying off staff from businesses such as hotels and travel agencies.

Visitor arrivals have suffered four months of decline, so tourism will also be hit as regional travellers forgo holidays here.

Other workers who are at risk include semi-skilled and unskilled workers such as cleaners and waiters.

# Luxury and retail

During bad times, in-your-face luxury 'is suddenly very passe', analysts say.

Consumers are likely to cut back on luxury goods while high-end stores and luxury brands scale back staff numbers to reduce costs, they say.

The credit squeeze is likely to continue exerting pressure on consumer spending, so employment, salaries and bonuses in this industry could take a hit.

# Manufacturing

Singapore's manufacturing production numbers have been sliding because of weakening demand for exports.

Electronics, which makes up 30 per cent of Singapore's manufacturing sector, is expected to slide further as firms scale down information technology spending and defer outlays on tech upgrades.

Jobs in the manufacturing sector are vulnerable as a fall in demand could cause firms to scale back to cut costs.

# Transport and aviation

As consumers adopt a more conservative outlook and tighten their belts, demand for transport services such as taxis and flights is likely to be affected.

Fuel prices and falling demand could also take a toll on airline profits.

Carriers in the United States and India have already reported plans to retrench staff, including pilots, stewards and baggage handlers.


Five low-risk sectors

# Law

The legal profession is still seeing strong demand. In the current economic climate, analysts see a shift in terms of skill sets required, with a stronger call for insolvency and bankruptcy lawyers.

# Accountancy

As the finance industry consolidates, demand remains healthy for accountants, particularly cost management executives and those skilled in tax restructuring and managing distressed assets.

# Public sector, including teachers

The public service sector has always been a 'relatively stable sector' and remains the largest employer in Singapore, says recruitment firm Robert Walters.

Education is generally not affected by economic volatility, so teaching jobs, in particular, are relatively safe.

# Health care

Health care is generally regarded as recession-proof, although this depends on the nature of the service provided.

Optional surgical procedures such as cosmetic enhancements and dental services not covered by health insurance are likely to see a fall in demand.

The employment prospects for other occupations such as doctors, medical assistants and nurses are likely to remain stable.

# Energy

Countries will still need energy to run, so jobs related to oil and gas, and alternative, renewable energy are likely to remain relatively stable.

With the growth of climate change awareness fuelling a demand for 'green' skills in the energy sector, this industry is tipped to remain strong despite the current economic slowdown.

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