Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Wednesday March 27th 2019

Reader hopes to network to improve services for jobless PMETs

Dear Gilbert,

I have followed your website over the years and I greatly admire your kindness and tenacity in providing a service to those who are between jobs.  Your website allows them to vent their frustration, to receive counselling and sometimes material support, and, most importantly, to know that they are not alone.  Your compassion has given me hope that Singapore is not as soulless as some people have claimed.

I would like to suggest that you consider providing an additional service through your connections and your website.

What many of the contributors are facing is not unique to Singapore.  It is a result of globalization and technology changes, from which Singapore has greatly benefited.  Government policies may have exacerbated the situation but they are not entirely to blame.  Even those who leave Singapore and become foreign talents in other countries may find themselves facing similar situations in their adopted countries.

There was a time when going to the right university, getting the right degree, and working hard will guarantee a comfortable life; but those days are gone. For most young PMETs today, it is not whether they will be unemployed sometimes in their career, but when and for how long.¬† If you are a P and what you are currently doing is routine and repetitive (e.g. a lawyer doing conveyance agreements or an accountant closing a company’s book month after month), you will likely be replaced by AI.¬† If you are a M in a middle management position and you depend on soft skills such as people management or writing reports, you should know that companies everywhere are lobbing off layers of middle management.¬† If you are a E or a T and have not enhanced your skills set in the last 3-5 years, you are on the way to obsolescence.

It is a jungle out there, adapt or perish.

One way to adapt is to move down the food chain.¬† PMETs become Uber drivers, or end up doing menial work in the service sectors.¬† In many cases such moves are needed for basic survival.¬† But those jobs are going away as well.¬† Driverless cars are on their way and even McDonald’s has begun to replace cashiers with machines and experiment with hamburger-making robots.¬† So adapting down is not really a good long term solutions.

In addition to competing with foreign talents, PMETs who have been out of a job for a while have to combat ageism and the stigma of long term unemployment.¬† It is particularly difficult for those in their 40′s and 50′s when they should be at the height of their earning power.¬† It is also difficult for those who should be retiring but have to continue to work because CPF does not provide an adequate retirement income.

We are moving towards a “gig economy”.¬† There will be fewer and fewer full time jobs pursued by more and more people.¬† Companies are increasingly hiring on a project basis rather than bringing on full time staff.¬† Many of these gigs will be fulfilled by PMETs.

The good news though is that ageism and unemployment stigma are not really issues in the gig economy.  Furthermore, a foreign talent cannot get an employment pass to work full time in the gig economy.

To be successful in the gig economy one has to be prepared Рmentally as well as professionally.  A PMET needs to be ready for the uncertainty of not having a fixed amount deposited into the bank at the beginning of the month.  She also needs to sharpen her saleable skills.

The first step is to identify her saleable skills.¬† We tend to think of skills in term of what we have used in our careers.¬† But each of us have many other skills that can be of value, based on our interests and hobbies.¬† Books like “What Color is Your Parachute” have many tools to help us identify the skills that each of us possess.¬† From such a list she can pick a few that companies will pay for.

The second step is to sharpen those skills.  And the best time to do this is when she is still employed.  If the skill is related to a hobby, then she needs to make sure she has what is required to take it beyond a hobby.  For example, she may have interest in photography but to be a professional wedding photographer she may need some extra lenses and a powerful computer to process the images.  It is much easier to buy those when she has a regular paycheck than to wait until she is looking at a dwindling bank account.  She can even start working some gigs while she is still employed to sharpen those skills and build up a portfolio.

The third step is to have a platform where she can advertise her skill and where potential employers can look for needed talents.

This is where can provide an invaluable service.  It needs to help PMETs face the reality that long term full time employment will become rarer and rarer and they may have to be in the gig economy for a long time Рor even the rest of their professional life.  Then it can do the following:

First, can offer seminars and coaching sessions to help its readers identify their saleable skills.

Second, it can organize special interest groups for those with similar skills to get together online or in person to exchange idea and help one another improve.

Third, it can provide a online platform to put PMETs and potential employers together, and assist the PMETs in making their advertising as attractive as possible.

Allow me to offer myself as an example.¬† I retired a few years ago in my mid 50′s, after a career of management in IT MNCs.¬† Even though – by the grace of God – I have sufficient retirement saving, I selected to be part of the gig economy, primarily to keep my mind active.¬† In the past few years I have had paid and voluntary gigs in management consulting, technology consulting, business strategic planning, teaching (IT, English, public speaking, creating thinking, presentation skill, etc), photography, websites design and implementation, logo design, copywriting, translation, editing, ebook production, and career counseling.¬† I managed to earn enough from these gigs that my retirement saving was barely touched.¬† Now I realize that my situation is atypical: I have no mortgage, no debt, no car, and I live rather modestly.¬† However, I want to use myself as an example to illustrate that we all have many saleable skills beyond those used in our regular employment.

If you are interested in this proposal, I will be more than happy to explore it further with you via e-mail.


Editor’s note: We will be scheduling an appointment to catch up with the writer to explore ways to better assist our jobless PMETs in future. Currently, we only provide individual personalised coaching and counselling services.

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Reader Feedback

3 Responses to “Reader hopes to network to improve services for jobless PMETs”

  1. Ong Heng Huat says:

    Agree with the writer. To survive in today economy is not only to Adapt and Grow, one must be ready to change ownself to really dive in and adapt and grow your own business. The future seems or more likely heading towards the gig economy whereby many would become independent professionals working for a variety of ‘clients’. If your skills r marketable or saleable then with a platform or digital technology plus your marketing visibility & reputations u be in need & become saleable to the market needs. A platform to market yourself that identifies & tie in with the needs of clients will make the independent professional succeed in this digitized gig economy for many years to come.

  2. Dear Gilbert,

    I am in the 50 plus, and really like the article by Charles. Can you contact him, asking for his contact for me? I am considering to tap into the gig economy as a career path.

    Thank you and regards,
    Jia Siang

  3. Yes says:

    Yes! please get everyone connected since we cannot rely very much on our useless govt.

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