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‘Layoffs on everyone’s minds’: Some Singapore tech workers fear fallout after more job cuts at Meta

SINGAPORE — The latest round of job cuts at Meta has led some workers in the technology field here, including one Apple employee, to fear for their job security.

‘Layoffs on everyone’s minds’: Some Singapore tech workers fear fallout after more job cuts at Meta
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  • Meta announced a second round of job cuts on March 14 and some workers in Singapore’s tech sector are getting worried about their job security
  • There were companies that had supposedly been assuring workers, saying their jobs would not be on the line despite cost-cutting measures
  • Observers said that tech companies here may likely follow suit with job cuts
  • Competition and market conditions may affect their decisions, but certain sub-sectors may be spared, they added

SINGAPORE — The latest round of job cuts at Meta has led some workers in the technology field here, including one Apple employee, to fear for their job security.

Speaking to TODAY on Wednesday (March 15), a 33-year-old contract worker with tech firm Apple said that although the company has assured the teams that there will not be job cuts, employees such as herself remain worried about their future.

She said that Apple’s management had told staff members during town halls that it has been frugal in its hiring and will not need to cut manpower like other companies.

“But I’m worried,” she said, declining to reveal her name.

Concerned that doing her job well will not be enough to guarantee an extension of her contract, she added: “In any other situation, I would be confident in my abilities, but now I’m not — because just abilities may not be safe enough.”

Analysts told TODAY that they would not be surprised if other companies in the tech sector that have offices in Singapore would follow suit with job cuts, in light of Facebook’s most recent cuts.

Some workers in the industry here also said that they were worried for their jobs, after Meta — the parent firm of Facebook and Instagram — announced on Tuesday that it would conduct a second round of retrenchment.

Meta’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg had said in a message to employees that the company will cut 10,000 jobs, four months after it had let go of 11,000 employees.

Meta’s layoffs is the latest in a wave of massive job cuts by some of the world's biggest tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Amazon.


The contract worker from Apple’s office in Singapore said that the spate of layoffs in the industry have been “on everyone’s minds”, with their worries further exacerbated by Meta's latest move.

News agency Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Apple is expanding a cost-cutting move, delaying bonuses for some divisions and freezing hiring for more jobs amid an uncertain economic outlook, even though the iPhone maker has avoided the kind of mass layoffs at other technology firms.

One worker who was recently laid off from a financial technology (fintech) firm said that he had been worried for his job security since these retrenchments were reported in the media late last year. He was informed last month that he would be let go and he officially left his job last week.

The 35-year-old, who did not want to disclose his name over concerns that it could affect his future job prospects, said that he had expected to be retrenched because those in senior or upper-middle management were “the first to go”.

They were laid off first before junior employees because their salaries were a high fixed cost for the company.

The fintech company was also more likely to let go of people who were not in the core team and had roles that supported the core team, he said. 

Those in the core team would refer to those who do the main function of the work. For example, machine learning developers would form the core team of a machine-learning company, or data scientists would form the core team of an artificial intelligence company.

Although he felt "slightly hard done by" at first, he has since overcome that feeling and is confident of finding another job soon — also in the tech industry.

"it’s about whether it’s the right role for my career progression, with a palatable salary," he added.

Over at Google, a 38-year-old who has been working as a manager there for more than four years, and who spoke on condition that he not be identified, described the mood in his office as “okay”.

After the layoffs at his company were announced in February, staff members felt that whoever were still in the office were “obviously safe”.

Still, he said that he was concerned on hearing Meta’s announcement, because he was afraid that it might lead to a new round of layoffs at his own company.

“But it’s out of my control, so I’m not thinking too much about it,” he added.

A TikTok employee in her 20s said that she was “not too worried” about her job security because she had “grown numb” to all the news about layoffs in the sector since late last year.

She added that the regional and global team leads in TikTok have been “very reassuring and transparent” about the company’s situation. They also encourage workers to talk to management if they feel anxious about their job security, she said.

“I also have extremely supportive colleagues, so it dampens the anxiety and right now, we are all channelling our energy into doing our best in our roles together.”

A 36-year-old working in a fintech firm that is a small- and medium-sized enterprise said that he was not worried for his job as well, because those with his skill sets in sales and development remain very much in demand within the industry.


Analysts with insights into the tech industry said that they expect other companies with Singapore offices to take steps to reduce manpower in this climate.

Mr Adrian Goh, co-founder of tech talent platform NodeFlair, said that he would not be surprised by more layoffs in these companies here, though this would not be due particularly to what Meta is doing.

Rather, it would be due to poorer market conditions, he said. 

On the other hand, Mr Adrian Tan, a veteran human resources practitioner, said that Meta’s second round of layoffs was quite surprising because having multiple retrenchment exercises are not good for workers’ morale.

He said that Meta may have been prompted to do so because it had to publish its quarterly earnings by the end of this month and it would not be good for Meta to tell its shareholders that it had performed below expectation in its first quarter.

Mr Tan added that there is a tendency for other tech companies to retrench workers within the same period because their businesses are all affected by similar factors, such as by the recession or the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he said that he did not expect other tech companies to cut as many jobs as Meta in order to avoid bad publicity.

Mr Goh of NodeFlair said that it was not shocking to hear about Meta’s latest round of cuts because it is fighting many fires, including competition from TikTok and hits to its advertising revenue.

“Coupled with the worsening of the financial market, Meta’s shares had tanked quite significantly over the past year and it needs to win back shareholders confidence.”

On how far more Meta and other tech companies could continue to retrench workers, Mr Goh said that based on the big picture, it appeared that Meta over-hired over the past years and is now “right-sizing”.

For example, while the number of employees at Meta almost doubled from 2019 to 2022, Apple’s headcount grew by a lower 19 per cent during the same duration, which was one reason analysts said has helped Apple to avoid mass layoffs.

“After the upcoming layoffs, the effective employee growth rate is still at 70 per cent over the past three years for Meta. This is still pretty significant,” Mr Goh added.

However, one analyst said that different sub-sectors in the tech industry will be affected differently in the present climate of higher interest rates and the economic slowdown.

Associate Professor Nitin Pangarkar from the National University of Singapore Business School said that some tech firms will face issues similar to Meta, while others in trendier sub-sectors such as artificial intelligence may not.

The impact on the offices of tech companies here will also depend on the functions of the teams and the skills of the employees based here, he added. 

On whether the mass layoffs make sense, or if it will leave tech companies too lean to function, one industry watcher said that only time will tell.

Mr Alfred Siew, editor of the technology news website, pointed out that the number of employees being retrenched in the tech sector is not insignificant and it is bound to have some impact.

“Investors will be happy that (tech companies) are streamlining and not overspending, but at the same time… you still need people to do the job.”

Whether these tech companies made the right move to lay off workers in high numbers will only be revealed in a few months.

“If things continue to run fine… people will say, ‘Hey, they made the right decision’… But if the quality of the services diminishes, then questions will be raised about whether they cut the right people or cut too many people,” Mr Siew added.

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