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Turning the tide for job seekers (Today 23 Sep)

Turning the tide for job seekers

North West CDC’s PMET Club the latest initiative to boost morale, employment
05:55 AM Sep 23, 2009
by Lin Yan Qin

BY the time they go to their Community Development Council (CDC) for help, they are usually months into their attempt to find a job, and may be feeling demoralised and low in confidence by the rejections.

And it is this “worrying” trend in Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) job seekers that the North West CDC would like to address with its latest initiative, as long-term unemployment is on the rise.

“Some PMETs may encounter a prolonged period of unemployment, and that has developed certain personal barriers among themselves – they’ve lost confidence, their skills are outdated, and some of them don’t know how to repackage (themselves) … There’s a certain morale problem, depression, anxiety, fear …” said North West district mayor Teo Ho Pin, speaking to the media yesterday.

And with the job placement rate of PMETs lower than the CDC’s overall placement rate – 40 per cent compared to about 53 per cent – the CDC is launching the PMET Club @ North West, setting aside $80,000 to organise training seminars and networking sessions with potential employers.

Just last week, the Manpower Ministry highlighted in its latest labour market report that the number of those unemployed for at least 25 weeks increased substantially to 22 per cent of resident job seekers in June from 12 per cent a year ago.

While other CDCs have been mustering their own efforts to specifically reach out to PMETs since the recession began, another dimension to North West CDC’s initiative is that for enterprise-minded PMETs – two district councillors from the council have pledged $40,000 to invest in viable social enterprise start-ups.

Those who want to start their own businesses are also encouraged to take a course at Republic Polytechnic – located in the North West district – on business skills for start-ups.

PMET job seekers, especially mature ones in their 40s, were having trouble landing jobs because many could not find any that matched their previous jobs in salary and position, said Dr Teo. Moreover, some came from industries which were no longer hiring, and find themselves needing to switch to new sectors – something they found challenging.

About 600 of the 3,200 job seekers in the district’s database are PMETs, and about 60 per cent are aged 40 and above. Between October last year – when the recession began – to last month, the average number of PMETs seeking help at the CDC has more than doubled to 125 a month, compared to 48 monthly before the recession began. Some 550 PMET job seekers have found jobs in that time.

Through such efforts, the CDC hopes to “restore” confidence to the job seekers, said Dr Teo. The club will also serve as a platform for PMETs to network, and also seek opportunities to do volunteer work for the community. It will continue its role even when the downturn is over, he added.

Elsewhere, some other initiatives include South West CDC providing PMET job seekers with namecards at a job fair and networking session, while South East CDC has held monthly employability workshops.

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