RESPONSIBILITY for the increase in the number of retrenchments last year has been placed on ongoing economic restructuring in Singapore (“More workers laid off amid economic restructuring”; yesterday).
Since economic restructuring refers to the phenomenon of urban areas shifting from a manufacturing to a service-sector economic base, which directly affects employment, why is the likelihood of redundancy among professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) higher than among blue-collar construction, production and related workers?
PMETs accounted for 51 per cent of the layoffs last year.
Even among those made redundant, the rate of re-entry into employment is far slower for white-collar workers.
Among those who found new jobs, a large proportion resumed work in a different industry, suggesting that their previous employment was in a sunset industry, or that a huge number of these PMETs end up underemployed as insurance or property agents, private tutors, security guards or taxi drivers, thereby competing with a huge pool of non-graduates for employment.
The group of mostly university-educated Singaporeans continue to lose their livelihood at an alarming rate.
In spite of tighter restrictions introduced last year to control the influx of foreign PMETs, the retrenchment rate of white-collar citizens remains high, as many companies still prefer hiring foreigners, owing to savings in cost.
The long-term consequence of structural unemployment, especially with tens of thousands of older local PMETs losing their skills and employability, is the eventual weakening of our economy.
Older Singaporean employees have discovered that existing guidelines and incentives to companies are far too inadequate and ineffective. Retrenched workers with the required experience, impressive track record and credentials can send out hundreds of job applications, attend numerous interviews, and still draw a blank, owing to nothing except their age [Yours Truly belongs to this group of PMETs and has since given up looking for jobs, unfortunate but a true sad fact of life. To those who are below 40s and think that you are invincible, your days will be even worse than mine when your time comes, just watch my words].
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices may have set out principles of fair employment practices for adoption by employers.
However, in the absence of legislation, such an approach falls short of getting firms to keep or re-employ their older workers.
Edmund Khoo Kim Hock
Help PMETs assess their skill sets
THERE has been a lot of discussion about the plight of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), along with many ideas on how to support this group of workers (“More help for displaced PMETs” by the Ministry of Manpower, last Thursday; and “Do more to help older PMETs” by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock, April 25).
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Development Agency (WDA) have also emphasised that many PMETs’ skills are outdated.
Some PMETs might be aware of which industries or job functions have been hardest hit by the rapidly changing business landscape, but could the MOM and WDA state which sectors these are?
Has there been any research or survey conducted to show the profile of their outdated skill sets?
Is there also some kind of a test that currently employed Singaporeans can take to assess themselves to see if their skills and knowledge are up-to-pace?
Such an assessment might be useful in helping workers learn about themselves and perhaps identify potential blind spots in their career path.
Forecasts, trend identification and predictions are some common initiatives carried out by research houses and consultants, to show what could be potential mega-trends before a fringe industry or practice enters the mainstream.
Based on this, the MOM or WDA could tap on the insights from these experts to develop support programmes to help the Singapore workforce. [Askmelah’s note: Not that MOM or WDA are not doing some “programmes”, but that they are very much to meet their own careers’ KPIs and the Government’s KPIs (just think of Workfare, Pioneer Packages, PIC etc lots of money-wasting initiatives that yield very little results except benefiting some crooks and the unscrupulous business owners including some professionals such as doctors and lawyers]. Many of these initiatives are very cosmetic and the real help is very few and far between. Better to rely on oneself than to depend on Government.]
Tan Kar Quan