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Thursday January 24th 2019

Job seekers in their 30s need reality check (Sunday Times 27 Sep)

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Job seekers in their 30s need reality check
Experts advise lowering pay expectations as jobless rate for those in 30-39 age group goes up

By Shuli Sudderuddin

When Ms Cindy Lim was retrenched from her job in logistics in April, she realised that she had to lower her expectations if she were to get a new job quickly.
Rising unemployment

The labour market report for the second quarter of this year shows that the jobless rate for the 30 to 39 age group rose to 4.7 per cent, from 2.9 per cent last year. About 24,000 people… were out of work, compared to 14,600 for the same period last year.
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Initially, the 34-year-old, who has a degree in logistics and supply chain management from the University of South Australia, expected to be paid close to what she got in her old job.

But this was a downturn and she did not get many responses despite sending resumes to many would-be employers.

She eventually landed a job in customer service last month. It was recommended by a friend and she took a $1,000 pay cut.

‘We can’t afford to be fussy,’ she said, referring to those in her age group.

Indeed, a readjustment of expectations is in order as statistics from the Ministry of Manpower show that those in the 30 to 39 age group have been hit hard by unemployment.

The labour market report for the second quarter this year shows that the jobless rate for this group rose to 4.7 per cent, from 2.9 per cent last year.

About 24,000 people in that age group were out of work, compared to 14,600 for the same period last year.

This represents an increase of 62.1 per cent, versus 39.4 per cent (for those below 30) and 48.5 per cent (for those aged 40 and over).

The jobless ranks among the 30 to 39 age group were across all educational groups, in particular those with degrees, polytechnic diplomas and below secondary school education.

HR experts said they could be shut out of new jobs because of pay expectations – even as the economy has hit a rough patch.

Mr David Ang, executive director of the Singapore Human Resource Institute, said they ask for higher pay as they are at the stage of their lives when they may need to care for young children and finance a home purchase.

‘They may only accept lower-paying jobs for a period because of this,’ he said.

Professor Richard Arvey, head of the department of management and organisation at NUS Business School, noted that employers are now cost-conscious and there might be a ‘sensitivity to hiring older employees as they’re more expensive’.

Some in their 30s may also be reluctant to consider venturing into new careers, observed human resource firms.

But Mr Dhirendra Shantilal, senior vice-president (Asia-Pacific) at Kelly Services, feels that the jobless figures may be rooted in structural unemployment from the loss of jobs in certain sectors, which did not recover quickly enough and bore the brunt of the global crisis.

‘It is not an issue of employer attitude towards a certain age group or demographic segment,’ he said, noting that business clusters like finance, retail and manufacturing have suffered in the economic slowdown.

A spokesman for the Workforce Development Agency said that as of end-August, 19,000 job seekers were registered at the career centres at the community development councils.

About 4,600, or slightly above 20 per cent, were aged between 30 and 40.

The spokesman added that there are problems unique to this age group, such as childcare, which can hinder their ability to go for training, for instance.

‘There can also be mismatches in pay expectations between them and employers,’ she added, noting that some also lack the skills, such as resume writing and interview techniques, to secure a new job.

From December last year to last month, the career centres assisted and placed about 13,000 job seekers, of whom about 20 per cent were in their 30s.

Experts reassure those in this age group that they are a valuable asset to any company.

Said Mr David Wee, managing director of Lee Hecht Harrison, which helps clients recruit staff: ‘Companies know that it is important to retain high performers in their 30s – especially those who may have spent several years within an organisation and have gained considerable experience and expertise.’

He advised 30-somethings to make themselves more marketable by upgrading themselves with new skills and being more open to fresh opportunities.

For those out of work, he said: ‘In these formulative years, working on a contract or temporary basis for a while may also be a way back into the workforce.’

shulis@sph.com.sg

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One Response to “Job seekers in their 30s need reality check (Sunday Times 27 Sep)”

  1. sal says:

    We should have a min wage system to survive in Spore high cost of living. Can the minister survive with the current low wages in Spore? …its easier to say than do it.

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