Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Sunday January 20th 2019

The woes of prolonged unemployment and possible solutions

Gilbert, thank you for the nice gesture.

I am writing to you not to criticize the government, but to reflect on the situation. Myself being unemployed for more than a year and have gone for a few courses and applied for unknown number of jobs. The situation for those of us long term unemployed grows dire by the day, and we don’t see light, nor any viable policies by the government to help us.

The current situation

With MOM data released to date, 3.2% resident unemployment is a 7 year high (since 2010). It is alarming also that the year end festive season which typically throw out seasonal jobs dropped against Q3. This is a sign of immense difficulties of things to come. And yet it is shocking that nobody raised an alarm or pushed for any emergency actions to date even as we approach May 2017.

Government action

I think to be fair to the government, it has been trying to help. But perhaps hampered by the core belief of not paying people for not working, the schemes are tied to you receiving a wage. The intention to use wage support schemes to spur employment is logical and sane. Except that for reasons unknown, more jobs were lost. In this situation, the unemployed people who need the monetary support, never got a cent while eat away at their own savings.

The PCP has been mentioned umpteen times and touted as a possible life saver. But have you visited the PCP website or spoken to the career counselors about PCP? There are not enough participating companies. Some of the sectors outright have no hiring companies in their list. Again, no jobs.

WDA training programs

This has been a recurring feedback. And I went on a few WDA, e2i, etc training. You see Gilbert, we are not being greedy. Many of us are willing to half our last drawn and even take a fresh entrant pay. But so far at the end of the course, you guessed it, no jobs.

We need to survive day to day. You see Gilbert, the problem is we already have no monthly salary. We need some supplements. Cash. Some of us are almost to the stage of begging. We are trying our best to get a job. But the government schemes will not help us in any way because there are NO JOBS!

Spurs in your hide

It is frustrating not to say demoralizing to keep trying to cheer yourself up every day you wake up. Worse, the last few months were about prices increases. CPF Life premiums where the government once “promised” will never increase? Water 30%? Gas? Town council fees? I cannot remember what else. Even as we were hanging by our fingers trying not to drop down the cliff, we get spurs stuck into our tiring muscles to “work harder”. Not nice at all.

Reduced mobility

So there has been talk about transport fees might go up? You know what? Unemployed people need to travel more than employed people. Simply because we go for more interviews, job fairs, networking. By increasing transport fares, it will be giving us another punch in the guts.

The long wait

Do you know how long it takes for Civil and Public service to review your job application? How long do they take and how many hoops they make you jump through which drains your already low pool of energy and resources to get a job with the Civil and Public Service? Is it even necessary?

Big projects

After all these complaints, Gilbert maybe I really should give some suggestions. We have some very big infrastructural projects going on. All funded by taxpayers.

MRT expansion. Can Singaporeans be trained to take over roles from FTs? Did we plan for Singaporeans to be trained for roles in these multi billion dollar projects?

T5 and Jewel. Yes, another big project. Can Singaporeans be employed? Those construction companies make huge profits. Can they be told to make less just to spread some of the butter around?

Government going digital. This is a project I heard that is being planned. With many IT projects given to Indian firms last few years, can this mega project be given to Singaporeans? Why not have training courses for Singaporeans to do the jobs and ensure Singaporean companies hire Singaporeans to tender for the projects?

New estates. HDB is building new towns. Where can Singaporeans come in? Construction? IT? Furnishings? Electricians? Can we reduce our reliance on foreigner interior designers etc? Gate the interior designers and get more Singaporeans into the trade? Unemployed PMETs probably are affluent enough to have traveled overseas and have more ideas!

You see Gilbert, there are plenty of opportunities to convert PMETs just by looking at the mega projects in Singapore now. But we need the Government bodies to start talking to each other and get meaningful jobs and plan training to help us. I still have a lot of respect and trust in our Civil service.

Overseas work

Singaporeans are savvy. Singaporean PMETs are one of the best in the world. Most of us have regional exposure. If not, our work ethics, experience and attitudes are among the best in the world. So the Government can start helping us get jobs overseas. After all, we have been letting so many foreigners in, we must have accumulated a lot of goodwill for foreign countries to hire Singaporeans! Foreigners have been championing to be hired on “fair and equal footing” as Singaporeans in Singapore must be overjoyed to ask their own countries to now hire Singaporeans on equal consideration basis as their own citizens! Also, didn’t we have so many FTAs? IESingapore and SPRING, OSU and EDB would have many foreign friends to help us right?

The Opposition

After all is said Gilbert, I am also disappointed in the Opposition. It is correct and true that they are not the government and don’t have the responsibilities like the government does. But that does not mean they cannot try to help. This is a situation where any help is appreciated. Why can’t SDP, WP or any PPPPPP start organizing networking and introducing jobs for Singaporeans? They can’t do it themselves does not mean they cannot be a platform to facilitate and grow a movement! It is all in their favor if they even manage to help people find jobs!

Ok Gilbert I will stop here. Like I said, I believe that the Civil and Public service have every intention to help. But the help is not getting any results. They need to do more or do things differently and tax us less. We are dying here, don’t push us deeper into the abyss. Especially when your actions are not giving us the help we need!

Editor’s note: This article is retrieved from a comment posted on our site.

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Reader Feedback

5 Responses to “The woes of prolonged unemployment and possible solutions”

  1. Ken says:

    The author seems to be kpkb-ing in this low economic stage. Sometimes being a Singaporean in our home cuntry is a liability. One need to understand that ” no one owe us a living” & sometimes we need to move to where the cheese had been stolen or to find the next cheese again. Now, most hirers/bosses shun Singaporeans as they think that their skills r expired & become useless. This is made worse by the G making ads on Adapt & Grow or PCP which makes the private hirers no responsibility to hire any Singaporeans first or even consider them. Put it this way – Singaporeans bosses won’t help Singapore workers as they think that they r a bunch of Sick-gaporeans ( after hired most took sick leave, paternity leaves etc) & employers dun like these stuffs at all. Unemployed Singapore need to work harder as wat PM said, but how to? One one would wan to hire a PMETs that r older than their company’s employee no matter how talented or relevant r their skills sets…unless the unemployed Singaporeans find some innovative ways to survive else its a harsh reality of survival here in the years to come.

  2. J Y says:

    I think if someone can match his interest with his ability in his job, he is very lucky. Very often, most of us is working like a robot for the sake of survival. Even if one shows enthusiasm for his job initially, he will get bored after doing the same tasks on a daily basis.

    It is also very hard for people with health problems or family commitments to find a job. Employers won’t like people taking MCs or leave to look after sick family members. It is very hard to have work-life balance here. Even if there are family-friendly policies, they are hard to implement. Most employees are already overloaded and can’t enjoy the leave that they are entitled to.

    It may take generations to change the mindset of employers or the govt to give workers more breathing space. It is very hard to have a home-based job with flexible hours. Travelling to and from work also waste our time and energy. Maybe we can have more ideas on jobs that can be done from home to help mothers to be able to take care of kids as well.

  3. Richard Lim says:

    Venture out, so far the calls I received from headhunters are for China and other regional positions … Our homeland is a sinking ship for PMETs. I was retrenched and have worked in Jakarta for 4 years.

    Better jump ship before the prolonged unemployment saps your morale and sanity to the point of no return and the harsh living expenses suck dry your blood until nothing is left. Then you will become a dry cadaver and insane. Your wife, initially supportive, will despise you, ultimately resulting in divorce. Your children will be awarded custody to her because you are in a bad shape to take care of kids.

    In short, prolonged employment will be the end of the world to individuals. Its a hollow feeling that will devour you slowly until you become an empty carcass.

    Please, I beg you, go overseas to work, its really the end of the world for PMETs in Singapore.

  4. xyz says:

    Haha it’s a luxury now to be able to be bored at work. It means either nothing much to do, or that it has become very simple to perform, no need to think. This is why workers in such situations are usually loudmouths to create the impression that they’re very on the ball & very busy. :)

    Nowadays for work-life balance is only in civil service. More & more ministries and stat boards are allowing staff to work from home 2X or 3X a month or even weekly. You can also take annual leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, childcare leave, old folks leave, reservist leave without problems.

  5. Benice says:

    Dear Gilbert, I feel very sad and demoralized. I have been unemployed for more than a year. And then to hear ministers insisting that it is a skills mismatch is like saying it is our fault. They simply refuse to admit that there are no jobs.

    Why so face saving? Already how many ministers have said their kpi this year is “jobs jobs jobs”. MOM statistic says there are only 77 jobs for every 100 jobseeker. The 77 jobs also don’t know what kind of job and the jobseeker is not include the dependent pass people, the foreigner here on tourist visa looking for job. Why don’t admit there is no job when your own data and people have admitted indirectly? Admitting the mistake is the first step to address the problem right?

    Why MOM still letting in MORE foreigner PMET? But keep saying they cut down work permit S Pass people? The problem is PMET no job! Minister want our jobless PMET to do work permit holder job is it? Why they keep let in all these foreigner PMET? Singaporean PMET so lousy? Then why pay the Poly and University people so much money? Cut their budget and lower our taxes!

    Dear Gilbert, what I am trying to say is, they should stop putting the blame on us. Already we are very low morale, the way they say “it is you no skill not that there are no job” is just further demoralizing us. This will only make us even more piss off at their not help schemes. Just admit your job creation is not productive and cut their pay and don’t give them bonus. We are skilled PMET and yet you keep letting in foreigner!

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