Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday August 2nd 2018

Advice from 60-year-old dad to jobless PMETs: “Life is full of struggle and if you make a wrong turn, don’t despair, there is still hope.”

Transitioning is a good column for people to learn about the harsh realities of life and Gilbert is doing a commendable community job and deserves recognition as the unsung hero who does his best to help others falling into a  hole they have dug for themselves and cannot get out (including the suicidal prone).

My word of advice as a 60-year-dad and husband is – life is full of struggle and if you make a wrong turn, don t despair, there is still hope.

Have a religion – it helps you, have real friends it helps and most of all don’t compete with the Joneses and envy others.

The world is full of idealistic and materialistic people and once upon a time I was on that train.

People here who wrote in saying they want to be bankers (glam), degree holders feeling despondent because  they lost their jobs and cannot support their family, people who got their degrees in later life thinking it is a passport to the good life.

In this regard,  Gilbert and his team is trying to bridge the gap and offer advice to people to get a second chance.

Sometimes his reply can be harsh such as to the matured person who got his degree at 42 and wanting a high flyer job in banking because he thinks his on -the-shelf (self study/pt time studies) degree equip him to be as dynamic/competitive as those minds who are freshly minted by the universities.

I could write a thesis but this is not the place.

If I am called to  give sound advice to our youngsters I would suggest to them to take up a trade skills  or profession  that make them employable and durable eg. accounting or bookkeeping, boring but you got a job for life as every firm needs a bookkeeper or accountant or sub accountant.

Not  every firm needs a banker esp a highly paid one past his 40-ies.

For those despondent, if you have some monies, take a trip up north to Malaysian or further north to Thailand and you will see all the survivors and only few despondents ie. they all get on their butt and find a way to make a living to feed their families instead of bitching about it.

They buy a mini van, go to kampong buy durians and bring it to the cities and sell the durians and make lots of monies.

This is just one example there are many others…sell chow kueh teow on a food van etc.

Sure you cannot do some of the survivalist things in Singapore but the point is the people in Malaysia and Thailand don’ t rely on rice to appear on their bowl or handouts, they survive by thinking out of box and creating something out of nothing and last thing they want is to drive a taxi as a degree holder!

So my point is ‘no one owes you a living’ – you should plan your future better and don’t jump in the degree mill thinking a degree will get you a job for life or committing suicide is the end of your problem (may be yours but not your family or dependents).

You need more people like Gilbert and other respondents to instill positive thinking.

You need a spiritual well being too and most important, right life advice from right people.

Posted by: U turn before it s too late

Editor’s note: This piece is taken off a comment posted on our site.

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18 Responses to “Advice from 60-year-old dad to jobless PMETs: “Life is full of struggle and if you make a wrong turn, don’t despair, there is still hope.””

  1. daniel says:

    Great piece of advice.Thumb up.

  2. sal says:

    Agreed, doesnt mean a degree can land you a goodor an iron rice bowl job…that time os over, cause theres so many people having degrees plus FWs with their degrees, master n PhDs.

  3. Sye says:

    hawking for food is illegal in singapore and needs a license.

  4. sovina says:

    A few thoughts in the post:

    1) Have a religion – Depends, it can be good or bad. A lot of people I know when in failure use religion as a social group for losers who lick each other sore wound to fell better about themselves.

    Some people draw inspiration and strength from religion, others end up in limbo and ah Q mentality because of religion. It is not a 100% good thing for 100% of the people.

    2) Banker advice – IIRC that advice was from some other contributor, not Gilbert, so it really has nothing to do with him except he reposted the text again.

    3) Advice to youngsters to take up accounting – Extremely bad idea. The whole accounting in Singapore is flooded with Pinoy FTs and a lot of firms are outsourcing accounting jobs to KL & Manlia.

    Accounting is quite honestly a SOP job without the need for much brains, it is definitely not a durable skill for job security in this age.

    4) No one owes you a future – Totally agree! Too many people instead of thinking out of the box to survive spend the whole day complain about PAP, boss, company, wife etc.

    • HCTan says:

      Accounting may be ‘boring’ but every job you do after while (esp at the lower levels) can be rather routine/boring. Also check employment columns in any newspapers and tell us if you see accounting/book keeping jobs going out- of- fashion. May not be big money or glamour unless with you are with Big $ or global acct firms but they do offer steady employment. Many of us know for fact there are many 60 years olds still employed either full or part time in the trade. Quite often the older, the more valubale cos of their experience to trouble shoot and resolve

      I now work in a local FI and have never come across a pinoy or indian employed as bookkeeper or accountant. These others are in the IT and not accountants.

      Have no fear of long term unemployment or unemployable if you got accounting qualification. You can also work part time.

      Thanks, 60 year old uncle for the advice but you may wish to qualify that accounting may not be for everyone esp if they don’t have a head or concentration for figures. Uncle oould be saying “be careful on career planning i.e. choose a degree that appeals to employers.

      last but not least, having a good accounting degree could land you with a passport to Australia or new zealand whom still welcome accountants with open arms (evergreen on their most wanted list). Many have already migrated to australia on that route and from not necessary from australian but singaporean universities (though they may need a bridging course on the SSAP/GAAPs).

      • sovina says:

        I am a recruiter and I know what I’m talking about.

        If you haven’t encountered a FT accountant yet, good for you, but don’t kid yourself that yours is a typical experience.

        The entire accounting market is being severely depressed by FT. Just like IT jobs, they are everywhere in the newspapers adverts, but at what salary?

        20 years ago when I first started recruiting, a good accountant with 10 exp can easily command $5k. The problem is now 15 years later it is still $5k. Accounting has gone from a premium professional job to an admin job with admin pay.

        Global accounting firms are some of the worst payers out there. They milk their associates and managers paying them average salaries of 3-6k and work them 80 hour work weeks.

        Most of the global MNCs already expect their onbshore Finance to upskill to Busines Partnering level or specialize in particular niches like Tax, Transfer Pricing, capital markets etc. Generic low level bookeeping experience just doesn’t cut the mustard these days, that’s why the Pinoys and Malaysians are coming in and pay has stagnated for the past decade.

        You are very lucky to not get affected by the industrial trends, but it is only a matter of time before the smaller MNCs and local big companies follow suit in coming years.

        Accounting is definitely not a stable iron rice bowl kind of job in th future. In the days when university graduates are few and far between it might have been a worthwhile skill, but nowadays getting your CPA or ACCA has become the bare minimum to say employed as a Finance Exec in big firms.

  5. J Y says:

    I think it is not so much a matter of whether it was a right or wrong turn. It depends more on who are the people you met along your life’s journey. It is rare to find a good mentor nowadays in this harsh world out there where everyone is becoming increasingly impatient and selfish amid intense stress. It is near to impossible to find someone who one can trust and confide in now.

    Most of the time, we depended on ourselves to make the best out of a bad situation. Many times, we can be made a scapegoat through no fault of ours. Life is indeed a struggle esp. for the poor and vulnerable in the midst of rising cost.

  6. TWM says:

    Totally agree. Our mindset has to change. A good degree,unlike in the past,does not naturally gets you a job. With so much higher qualified FTs coming in willing to work longer hours, its just going to be worse. We really need to be realistic (pay, working conditions etc etc) and work even harder. Brace yourself fellow Singaporeans for this FT trend is here to stay…

  7. Cheer Up says:

    I wish my dad wrote me a letter like above. Trouble is he was too busy working his guts up to feed the 6 of us. We all need encouragement when we fail but the problem we have all conditioned not to bo chap or express our emotions and as a result stress built up.

    On a seperate question i read that Australia and New Zealand also takes in accountants with open arms for migration. Is this true ? if so i would like to do part time studies and qualify as an accountant so i can migrate to australia, new zealand, canada because i think there is better quality of life for self and family.

    Advice from anyone ? By the way, i agree, having a religion (not the wrong kind) helps us through our struggles. There are far and few friends whom can help as they either have problems themselves or are too self centred (kiasu) to want to help.

  8. sal says:

    Why we need these FWs here? We only need them for the jobs Sporeans shun, don’t bring in FWs for PMETs jobs that Sporeans can do…..that’s is the root cause?

  9. Jack says:

    Read about transitioning & Gilbert Lim’s efforts in TRE which brought me here to this website and the article here.

    Just a couple days ago ,the Govt said ‘have a relevant skill rather than merely upgrade with a degree and be closely attuned to industry’s need and be relevant.

    Many of PMETs whom did degrees course in late 30s and 40s would now be cursing because of the wide spread belief years ago that that a degree is a passport to good life. Yes, before flood gates for FT were opened.

    A lot of blood, sweat and tears and hard earned savings and after work hours sacrifices went into pursuing these external or part time courses/degrees which you now know was not worth the paper it was printed on.

    Another hard truth is employers can cherry pick and not hire older graduates when they have lots of cheap F Ts (many with half baked degrees) to choose from with some years of experience.

    The reality of the real world is unless you went to university no later than early 20s, your degree has no great appeal/relevance to a employer whom wants fresh graduate unless the market is so tight that there is no graduate pool to cherry pick.

    There is no management trainee inducted for late age starters. Why? feel awkward for a 30 something go around to learn the trade from even younger staff.

    Those of you out there with any dream of doing a degree at a later age, do your homework better and check with industry’s practitioners and not degree mill salesperson/educational fair whom lure you with empty promises to part with your hard money and break your heart later to find its a useless piece of paper.

    Govt is now encouraging people to be hawkers and be nurses (esp men). All this with benefit of 2020 hindsight.

    In Australia, if you are migrant (read FT) unless your degree is accredited whether medical, engineering or commerce, its value is questionable. In Australia their local PMET gets precedence over FTs.

    In Spore, do FT foreign degrees (esp those whom come here with home country employer sponsor) gets benchmarked against local universities ? If this was the case ,you will not find local PMETs writing to TR E and transitioning and many feeling hopeless. The govt is trying to do something through the job bank but more can be done. Easily said than done, stay positive..scale down your expectations.. be mobile .. go to countries opening up like myannar and be a FY yourself where your skills might be better appreciated. If the Indians and Pinoys are doing it ,why not you ? leaving the family behind is hard but the world out there is doing that.

  10. Dico says:

    Degrees are losing its shine in Singapore. There are lots of ‘degree holders’ from India, China, Philippines, Myanmar,…….

    Every PMET job that you try to apply, you will find lots of ‘degree holders’ apply for the same position.

    At the end of the day, it is the value that you can bring to the company.

    It is more important to get some kind of skill or achievement than a piece of paper. All bosses want you to perform straight away with minimum ‘investment’.

    I have just got a job after one year of unemployment. Fortunately, I have been saving money since a few years back and I also have no big commitments to suck up my finances. However, to be one year without income is still very tough because of the cost of living in Singapore.

    I consider myself lucky to get the job because there are many younger guys competing with me.

    I think what I have are some impressive achievements that I can put on my resume. Dispite that, it took me a year to find another job.

    I am now about one month into my new job and I was busy like hell from day one! Luckily, I have gone through this shit and I can still manage. This is the real world, companies will only employ unless absolutely necessary.

    I think my boss(immediate superior) is pretty impressed with me for being productive since day one and I never complained about the heavy workload. I just do the job whatever he assign to me because I understand there is a lot of backlog to clear.

    This is life, we have to work harder in an environment like Singapore because our ‘step-parents’ (as what Swiss lifestyle Goh had used as an example) will simply want to work us to death.

  11. cis says:


    May i know if any employer ask u why u didn’T get employed / looked for job for one year? How did u answer?

  12. cc says:

    yes, it is bad idea to try studying accounting right now. the accounting market is flooded with fts. the accounting company i worked in previously, trained the fts for a year (inhouse accounting courses on how to do the job properly) as they did not have any accounting background. they did not have the required degree/diploma to do the job, but they got the job nonetheless and get paid to be trained during working hours.

  13. Jack says:

    HI its Jack again

    Heard the news that the Govt now said it straight in your face. If you are not academic inclined you should not pursue university studies at all or any costs but get some skills.

    How true this is and I feel sorry somewhat a lot of average ppl spent lot of monies and time to do degree esp from degree mills only to realise employers are choosy and discerning about the degree, how it was obtain and whether it has any value.

    Having read many jobless depressed unemployed people writing their grievances of no one wanting them, perhaps with benefit of 2020 hindsight degree mills should have been curtailed and instead more technical colleges set up to teach skills not academics

    How many people were duped into doing degree as matured students/working people only to find its lack of worth.

    Better learn a vocation …like cooking, hairdressing plumbing etc if you don t manage to get university

  14. Jack says:

    whom ever said don t do accounting ought to google and read today s news and you are proven wrong.. Malaysia said its needs 60k accountants to reach developed countries and status and many countries are starved of accountants.

    Singapore should not have unemployment for accountants..plse check for yourselves

  15. Tashi says:

    May I kindly recommend to watch this movie called ” The Intern” Robert De Niro, it may be a movie but it was inspired base on facts.

  16. Tashi says:

    Many times when I get to meet our overseas counterparts they always prise SINGAPORE, but always with a question, why are singaporeans not smiling or never smile they said their faces are so gloomy looking, they ask why? I never gotten to response to them because me myself finds it so when I go back to Singapore.But we all know what the many reasons areIt took me a very long time to established myself in the region and lots of challenges to tackle local and otherwise.

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