Are you prepared for the job market’s ‘new normal’? As the Singaporean economy emerges from circuit breaker measures, these four jobs could be the best-positioned for the post-COVID economy.
As the saying goes, the only thing that doesn’t change is change. And 2020 can feel as if years’ worth of changes is being squeezed into just a few months – and, for many, not the good kind of change either.
The bleak reality is that COVID-19 has been an overall negative for job seekers’ prospects. Regardless of contrary anecdotes, the data is clear; it showed that the number of open vacancies to job seekers has fallen from 84 to 100 at the end of last year to 71 to 100 at end-May, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). But as Manpower Minister Josephine Teo also said:
“I urge job seekers to keep an open mind – stay open to pathways that you would not have considered previously. Give the employers a chance and give yourself a chance.”
With that in mind, let us look at four jobs that could be best positioned for the post-COVID economy, and why.
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#1: Digital marketing specialist
The digital marketing field has been a growing one long before the world even heard the term COVID-19. But with the pandemic normalising work-from-home (WFH) culture and shifting more consumption online, capturing your prospects’ attention in the digital sphere has only become more important. In many cases, digital marketing is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather a ‘must have’.
The best part about digital marketing (and marketing in general) is that the skills learned here are industry agnostic – you will never need to 'lock' yourself into any one industry. Every industry needs marketing! This significantly de-risks this job field as your career prospects need not be tied into the fate of any specific industry. It’s also a boon from a personal fulfilment perspective; if you get bored, you can always switch industries.
The good news for those looking to add digital marketing skills to their repertoire is that there are many courses out there you can take. Further, most of them accept SkillsFuture credits – something all Singaporeans above 25 get (and should take full advantage of). Universities such as SMU are also offering professional digital marketing certificates.
Annual Median Salary*: S$42,000 (specialist), S$71,000 (digital marketing manager)
#2: Data analyst
Although somewhat newer than digital marketing, data analysis has also been a hot field way before the pandemic, with plenty of people talking about ‘data being the new oil’. But just like digital marketing, it is also a field that has increased in importance because of the pandemic.
Consider all the controversy surrounding pandemic-related infection and mortality rates, for instance. Without proper data analysis methods, confusion reigned. Long after the threat of the pandemic has passed, people will still remember the importance of data analysis. McKinsey has classified analytics as an 'essential navigational tool' for sailing the uncharted waters of the post-COVID economy.
And these are not even counting the field’s upward trend pre-pandemic; the Harvard Business Review called data scientists 'the sexiest job of the 21st century' – in 2012!
Of course, this is a technical field, which means there are certain barriers to entry. But for those with the intellectual firepower to tackle this job, there are numerous courses available, including from institutions like NTUC, SMU, and Singapore Polytechnic.
Annual Median Salary: $49,000 (data analyst), $71,000 (data scientist)
#3: Software developer/engineer
Yes, yes, software development – though undoubtedly thriving – is also a highly generic descriptor. But in the same way that the accelerated shift toward online has benefitted the above two jobs, software developers can also reap the rewards. In terms of the ‘digital supply chain’, software developers are the ones building the infrastructure that enable these supply chains to function, or in many cases, building the product itself.
To make things a little less generic, one specific focus area that could benefit the most from a post-COVID economy is security and governance. As WFH becomes normalised, security and governance concerns will come to the forefront as the data environment becomes more ‘open’ than closed. Such security gaps are something businesses will have to grapple with, which creates opportunities for software developers specialising in this area.
On a more general level, there is evidence that software development jobs have remained relatively resilient. In London, for example, tech jobs comprised 35% of vacancies during the shutdown – up from the ‘normal’ of 15%. The implication is that as vacancies in other industries disappeared, tech companies maintained their hiring.
Again, this is a challenging job that requires significant technical abilities. Fortunately, with the popularity of coding bootcamps – again available through institutions like NTUC – it is possible for the dedicated.
Annual Median Salary: $51,000 (software developer), $56,000 (software engineer)
#4: Sustainable finance
This may not be a job role per se, but it is still nevertheless something those with finance aspirations – or those who are already in the industry – may want to consider. Although the Singaporean financial industry has been impacted by the pandemic, with monthly job vacancies falling 35% year-on-year in May, sustainable finance may be one area that is poised to do the opposite.
In June 2020, Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) gave an online speech focusing on opportunities in green and sustainable finance, sometimes also called impact investing. What’s important here is that she pledged MAS support for this sector – which bodes well for its future. MAS’ support for the fintech sector, for example, was an undoubted boon for the industry.
MAS launched its green finance action plan last year, which also includes various skills development programmes and career advisory services. As MAS continues to develop guidelines for this sector, demand for relevant skills is likely to increase. This is also not a Singapore-specific trend, but one that is occurring at a global level.
Annual Median Salary: $118,000 (investment banking analyst)
The challenge is real, but opportunities do exist
Singapore’s GDP fell by 41.2% in the second quarter, and the unemployment rate among Singaporean citizens and PRs increased to 3.3%.
But to put that in context, this means that 96.7% still have jobs. Further, people who may be thriving during the pandemic are unlikely to be vocal about it due to the sensitivity of the issue. And while it’s true that the situation may well worsen, as individuals, our best move is to focus on things that we can control – such as upskilling ourselves and exploring new career pathways.
Just as we should not discount the negative effects of the pandemic, we should also not discount the real opportunities that are out there for the taking. And as always, SingSaver is here to help our readers along the way.
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