Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Friday January 25th 2019

The Lost Graduate Citizen

Unwillingly Unemployed 苦中做乐

I Am Lost…

I have no money; I have no direction.

My career ended years ago.

I belonged to the promising generation but now  I am a digit in the graduate unemployment figures.

When you are 35 – 45 years old and you lose your job, whatever your qualifications and positions, when the job disappears or a younger and cheaper substitute comes along you can kiss your job goodbye permanently.

With three mouths to feed, an apartment to pay and no income, I belong to the lost generation.

Not that I have not tried neither did I bury my head in the sand. I searched. I seeked help and referrals.

I combed the job market for an equivalent but alas… I am either too qualified, too old or not relevant.

I am a fighter like the Desert Rats; the only thing I bury is my dignity, pride and sorrows; I am the forgotten citizen.

What can I do or what do I need to do? What does the future hold? I am staring blankly into the future! Tomorrow is bleak; it is blank.

I need not be retrained to clean tables, make rooms nor sweep the roads. I need not wait at tables, take orders nor keep the stores. Not that it is demeaning but if these were my inspirations, I do not need a Uni-degree.

I am a resource and an economic waste in my Motherland; chasing the elusive job.

I slip through the cracks in Society. There is no safety net.

For all that had been said and assured, there were only words filled with empty promises.

The dream home, the retirement, the laughters and warmth, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This is just a pipe dream

I need not show nor do I need to tell. I will come back with a vengence when I hit the wall. Either we prosper together or you can selfishly milk every drop of my blood.

When doomsday comes, you will be my equal.


PS: This comment appeared in the article: Long term unemployed graduate seeking career coaching. The writer blogs at Wizard@McPeekay Institute movingly writing about his unemployment situation.

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Reader Feedback

19 Responses to “The Lost Graduate Citizen”

  1. pk says:

    Dear Mr Gilbert/Readers,

    A million thanks for publishing my article.

    The above article I penned does not necessarily reflect me or my predicaments. Like most of my articles (in my blog), I try to inspire the down (but not out) fellowmen to stand up and be counted again.

    Life is a journey filled with challenges. Good times and bad come and go; enjoy the best and manage the lows.

    But, I believe many mid-life crisis starts with financial hollow-out following the loss of income.

    My article reflects the typical family unit of “One wife, two kids, an apartment and, maybe, a car.”

    Happy reading

  2. NS for Singaporeans, Jobs for Foreigners! says:

    Dear Sir,

    Are you a Singaporean? Served NS? Did reservist?

    What was your last job appointment by the way?


  3. pk says:

    Dear Sir,

    I find your question alittle interesting though. I am 100% Singaporean. Served NS 2 1/2 years; like everyone else.

    Still very much a Singaporean and is still one!

  4. sp tan says:

    After reading unwilling unemployed, I would advise him to be realistic in looking for jobs. Today, there are thousands of fresh uni-deg holders looking for jobs.
    They are young and full of drive and ideas. If the writer is already over 40, how is he going to compete with these youngers even though he has a uni-deg.

  5. NS for Singaporeans, Jobs for Foreigners! says:

    To SP Tan,

    You really sound like one of those useless typical HR personnel or consultant.

    Just to inform you, Mr pk dutifully served his NS and provided security for Singapore so that these ‘young and full of drive and ideas’ kids could grow-up in a safe and secure environment. So what have you done btw?

    While he was doing his NS, these kids were given the opportunity to get a good education and then get good jobs in big MNC’s. These big MNC’s ofcourse attracted to Singapore’s safe and secure business environment, thanks to the effort, sacrifice and dedication of true blue Singaporeans like Mr pk providing our security through NS.

    It is Mr pk’s right to demand, that for his efforts in providing security to Singapore, the government should provide some sort of financial safety net for him or at the very least provide him a secure job in a governmrnt organisation. It is a national disgrace for a person like Mr pk not to receive any help from the government. It is a national disgrace that there is no Legislation that protects the wellbeing of people like Mr Pk who have sacrificed so much for Singaporean and now gets nothing but a slap in the face!

    You say these fresh grads are “They are young and full of drive and ideas” ? From my experience, most of them won’t even know how to conduct a proper meeting or lack the maturity to lead a team of professionals. In fact, maybe they are perfect for areas like HR depts?

    I would rather employ someone who is ‘mature, experienced and capable. Over 40? So what? Most of our PAP MP’s and ministers and perm-secs are over 40.


  6. sp tan says:

    Dear Sir,

    First of all, every male singaporean serves NS.
    There is no big deal.

    It is not our Government job to provide us with financial safety net. In fact, the Government has done a lot for the unemployed. One can turn to e2I, CDC,.. for help.

    Anyway, it is a hard fact that the unemployed, over 40 uni-deg holders find it difficult to land jobs especially for those who are not flexible and realistic enough and employers still prefer younger workers.

    They may be young,you will be surprise at their leadership quality and high productivity.
    Some of them are very creative.

    It is meaningless to look at our MPs and ministers
    for comparision.
    They are the top talent. What are we?
    This is why we need to be realistic.


  7. pk says:

    Guess, both the writers have a heart for the unemployed/underemployed. Let me share,

    First of all;

    When an older or elderly person’s skills and experiences are needed, useful, relevant and not easily replaceable, like a surgeon or Master Chef, he is deemed to be an expert and his remuneration will commensurate with his abilities.

    However, if the reverse is true, and he is easily replaceable. more often than not, he will be required to take a pay cut, or accept a lower pay in order to continue working.


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia defines Talent as:

    Talent is generally considered to be an innate, personal gift possessed by relatively few people.[citation needed]
    In essence, someone with talent has an aptitude to do certain things defines Talent as:
    1. a special natural ability or aptitude: a talent for drawing. running, etc
    2. a capacity for achievement or success; ability:

    Reality is cruel and talent is subjective. A good coach may not be a good fighter!

    Nobody owes anybody a living. What I suppose is more equitable is to make the playing (employment) field more balance so that there is a fair chance of eking out a decent living.

    Genius are many but successful ones are few and far in between. Mr Sp Tan may like to know the unemployed and underemployed are not any less talented; maybe, opportunity are not around the corner; just yet!

    I have always subscribe to the notion “Winner is King 胜者为王” A friend of mine said “I accept Fate, but I don’t bow to loses 我认命但我不认输“

    Take heart and take it easy, we are not born to work (until death); just live happily and healthily.

    Find your own space

  8. ykc says:

    “They are the top talent. What are we?”

    Mr. Tan, I do not understand your standing here. So what you mean is we jobless degree holders are flushed out of the market because we are simply low graded beings, and ought to worship the top talent MPs and be grateful that we still have street sweeping jobs to fall back to?

  9. NS for Singaporeans, Jobs for Foreigners! says:

    To sp tan,

    -Wow! You are right!! “NS is no big deal” It is ‘no big deal’ as Singaporeans sacrifice 2.5 years of their youth and lost salary for 2.5 years to serve NS. They do this while all the foreigners(like yourself?)that they have to compete in the workplace are busy upgrading, gaining experience and earning money during this period. It is ‘no big deal’ as these Singaporean NSman then have to spend the next 10 years in Reservist, including compulsory fitness tests, in-camp training upto 4 weeks a year, remedial fitness training upto 2 months (2-3 times a week)every year. It is ‘no big deal’ that these NSman are then disadvantaged in the workplace as a result of all these disruptions and burdens .

    “It is not our Government job to provide us with
    financial safety net”

    -Oh, then maybe it is not Singaporeans men job to
    provide national and economic safety net to Singapore by
    doing NS and protecting the country?

    “It is meaningless to look at our MPs and ministers
    for comparision. They are the top talent”

    -Oh you u mean our top talent Ministers? Wow, in fact
    they are so talented that Orchard road had flooded causing millions in damage and now still floods all around the Singapore and they only know how to tai chi the blame. They are so talented that GIC and Temasek lost billions of our national reserves.They are so talented that a top terrorist could easily escape from a high security detention facility. They are so talented that foreigners could easilly break into the MRT depot to spray graffiti and luckily not plant bombs. They are so talented that instead of developing our local sportmen, they prefer to ‘import’ foreign players from China to gain cheap victories. They are so talented that they allow Public Housing like HDB to be sold to PR’s, causing the price to inflate uncontrollably and preventing ordinary hardworking Singaporeans from owning HDB flats.

    Mr pk is also a top talent. He is highly qualified with a degree also. In fact, I think he can do a better job!

  10. sp tan says:

    To : NS for …

    You seem to be going too far away. Here we are trying to support the umemployed. NS is over.
    Foreigners are here to stay and work.
    It is a fact of life.
    One advice for uni-deg unemployed is to try go for training and if there is no choice, accept any jobs that come along.


  11. Denial Tan says:

    Soon our universities will have faculties for Road Sweeping, Dish Washing, Toilet Cleaning, Table Cleaning.

    So study hard and UPGRADE, so that you can get the above mentioned jobs.

  12. Denial Tan says:

    SP Tan,

    First to clarify, I am not a graduate. But if what you said is true than why should we spend so much for universities? Shouldn’t we close them all down?

    If a graduate’s rightful job is to be a cleaner, dish washer, toilet cleaner when he reaches the big 40, then why should people go to U in the first place, unless we have toilet cleaning faculties as I have mentioned in my earlier post.

    Also why should we keep ‘upgrading’ if the ‘upgrading’ is for the above mentioned jobs? Isn’t the skill upgrade subsidies a waste of taxpayer’s monies?

    You comments really reflects that of a not brainer.

  13. sp tan says:

    To Denial

    What’s wrong for being in the cleaning industry? Isn’t it also a decent job?
    You may not know that there are also upgrading for this industry.
    When being unemployed for over a certain period, one will need to be more realistic and flexible regardless of one’s paper qualifications.

  14. pk says:

    Sp Tan’s argument that a decent job is a job is not incorrect.

    But, if you are leader and the majority in your graduated flock chooses menial tasks after they loss their jobs and have no inspiration, you have would have failed miserably. How do you expect Society to progress if everyone opts for least resistance path?

    Denia Tan made a good point. If much economic resources had been expended, the resultant contribution should be better, not worse, than a lesser trained person. Why have a pool of graduates to make beds, clean the streets, wait at tables, keep stores, drive taxis..etc? Their years of experiences should be better deployed.

    Anyway, above are just academic arguments. The thrust is to find a way, or ways, to inspire and motivate the less fortunate towards success; One route is entrepreuneursip.

    ‘The solution lies with the problem”

  15. Denial Tan says:

    sp tan,

    For the very first thing are you working as a cleaner now? If you are not in that kind of job, please don’t make stupid comments.

    I must admit cleaning can be a back breaking job with no appreciation and being constantly looked down by others, especially the Chinese are very guilty of this and nobody should look down on them because they are also making a decent living.

    But you are definitely not the type that are kind to people like them and very likely to be the type who looks down on them and slave drive them. So don’t try to sound so noble.

    The reason for me to write my comments is the way the direction of this country is heading. The reason for the sorry state that this country had got into is because of people like you. The people who now run this country had exactly your mentality.

    I know it is easy to laugh at others’ misery while they bath in selfish bliss. Maybe you worked for the government, than I would nothing to say because it is you job to be selfish and look into you interest first. Or maybe you are ‘fortunate’ to be ‘self-employed’ and therefore can happily gloat over others misfortune and make stupid comments like this.

    For one thing, I am not in a desperate position like the one above but I will not gloat over others’ misfortune to entertain myself.

    But let me tell you something, there might be such a thing as karma and you may get you chance to be a cleaner soon and maybe that will make you very happy because you keep sing praise for that.

    A supplier of mine who had hated his local staffs and sing praise of FTs had went bust 2 years back. Now he is struggling to compete with the same people who he had been singing praise about and he get his fair chance of treatment of being called ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ by his foreign superiors now. He use the same words on his local employees now he complaints the treatment is unfair to him.

    SP TAN, mark my word, you are not god and so you have every chance to fall to the bottom of the pit one day and hope that by then you remember what you have said before.

    Karma always knocks on you when you are most unprepared.

  16. sp tan says:

    Dear PK, Denial
    You may know that there is a taxi driver with PhD.
    There are certainly graduates in the F&B, retail, industries.
    Once unemployed and especially for those over 40, what
    they hv learnt in the U has become obsolete. Difficult to compete with the young if we are not flexible and realistic.
    Fortunately, our Government has done a lot to help us but if we do not help ourselves, no one will.

  17. pk says:

    Sp Tan

    “Clap, Clap,Clap.. for you”; You are an elitist and your views are good but unreal. Can you say the same if the candidate with PhD and MBA is your kid? If yes, Mr Sp Tan, I SALUTE you. You have arrived!

    I fully agree that you can be a PhD taxi driver, a graduate non-paying volunteer or any non- or low paying job holder, grad or otherwise, if you have ENOUGH for yourself and your family. And still live happily.

    This is a luxury few unemployed or underemployed have. Sure, you can take two jobs if one does not pay enough. I encouraged this but this is draining for most.

    By the way over 40 is natural, NOT a sin.

    The truth is life will never be equal and the animal farm is in alittle ‘overdrive’…many are driven round the bend!

  18. Chong Chua says:

    SP Tan,

    You are making such comments conveniently at the comfort of your seat. Lemme tell you and mark my words :

    1. You do and will grow old too.
    2. Karma hits you back like a boomerang (when you are least prepared).
    3. What you are today might not be what you will be tomorrow.

    Aside to Denial Tan, thanks for reiterating the power of cause and effect. I’ve seen that, experienced that.

  19. admin says:

    Dear All,

    Though I encourage comments here, I urged all parties to refrain from making personal attacks on one another.

    We are all intelligent people and want to make Singapore a better place to live in.

    There is of course no perfect country and sometimes we have to make do with what we have available.

    Hope that we will adhere to making our comments non-personal from now on.

    Thanks all.

    Gilbert Goh

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