Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Tuesday July 2nd 2019

Changing jobs in mid-life is hard but do-able

I WAS encouraged after reading last Saturday’s series of articles (‘Left turn at 50′). It showed that many people can make life-changing decisions during the twilight years of their careers.

I went into social work when I was 45 years old, as I was looking for a more meaningful career – just like those featured in the articles.

I studied for a diploma in psychology and a graduate diploma in counselling before plunging head on to start my own non-governmental organisation four years ago.

It was a counselling and coaching service that was provided free of charge to jobless Singaporeans struggling with prolonged unemployment. There were no recurring funds because we could not possibly charge a consultation fee when our clients were mostly jobless.

Today, as the sole full-time volunteer, I operate from my home and and depend on my volunteer team of 10 coaches and counsellors to share the heavy load. We must have seen close to 500 people over the past four years.

Funds are hard to come by and we depend on contributions from friends and the public. I remember days when I had less than $100 in the bank.

There also remains the regular urge to return to the workforce and forsake voluntary work. But each time someone writes in seeking support, I relent and continue.

Moreover, each letter thanking us for our services is enough to make me hang on for another year. Indeed, we have just started another support service for divorced people.

I have never felt happier in my life, despite having to struggle with funding. If we dare to look beyond our own needs and focus on those of others, life will be much simpler and more enriching.

Gilbert Goh


Transitioning – Unemployment support services

Editor’s Note: This letter appeared in the Straits Times forum online on 15 May. We still urge our readers to support us in our works by contributing generously to our cause for Singapore. Please write to  for more details.

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Reader Feedback

12 Responses to “Changing jobs in mid-life is hard but do-able”

  1. batman says:

    Gilbert, could there be a typo error here:
    500 people divided by 4 years equal 125/year, which divided by twelve months works out to be slightly more than 10 clients a month, which cannot really qualify as “heavy load”.

  2. Gilbert Goh says:

    Hi Batman,

    We don’t see alot of people face to face and never can handle a heavy load as there is only one full time staff – me.

    I have a team of ten other counsellors and coaches assisting the team. All of them are volunteers with their own full time jobs.

    However, we should have close to a thousand and five hundred emails coming in these four years and many readers preferred an online supporting mode i.e. email counselling.

    We have also started a service for the divorced community for the past two years and so far we have seen close to 150 clients face to face and slated to run our third support group series for the divorced in June.

    Gilbert Goh

  3. Isabella says:

    I know of an ex it executive who joined teaching in her 40s, an ex mgr who was retrenched at 45 but found a job within a month in the same line, and a logistics exec who is now going for interviews and has gotten good offers at 40. It is not all doom and gloom for those in 40s, these examples show that there is hope still

  4. Pip says:

    Leave Sg with your family while you can. I can give you
    Some ideas. UK, Germany, Hong Kong, China, etc.
    If we support each other, even emotionally, if not financially
    We will succeed overseas. Presently in UK with family and our
    Young children.
    DOn’t waste anymore time in Sg. You will be sorry when
    The chance to leave is gone.
    Email me at
    Dont email me if you are not serious or you are
    Scared of venturing overseas or have tons of reasons.

  5. Goodman says:

    Has batman has ever volunteered counsellong before to say
    That 10 clients a month is not heavy load ?
    Batman ! Bam b wham !!! Do it in 10 seconds! Like the oldest
    Profession? Waiting for you? Hurry up?
    Do not need to call, make appointment , meet, prepare, etc..

    • batman says:

      Goodman, the gutter talk is rather silly and childish, save it. You are not doing this forum a favor with this kind of comments.
      You sounded like you are familiar with counseling works, so maybe you can explain to people like me who do not have that knowledge why ten clients a month makes “heavy load” instead.

  6. Gilbert Goh says:

    Hi Batman,

    For volunteers like us ten clients a month for face to face counselling on average is alot as some clients will want to see you more than once.

    Moreover, more than half of those who have written in preferred an online counselling support mode and we also need to spend time corresponding with them.

    There are also low months during Christmas and new year period as clients either go off for holidays or prefer not to seek help during rhese festive period.

    I believe that we are able to be more attentive to our clients’ needs because we have lesser clients than say CDC or e21 which handles thousands yearly.

    We also can’t handle clients of such scale as we are all volunteers.

    We are not funded so there is no kpi to meet.

    Hope this helps to clarify the matter.

    Gilbert Goh

    • batman says:

      Gilbert, thank you for the explanation.
      I would also like to clarify that there was no hidden or sinister motives in my pointing out the numbers, other than bringing to your attention the possibility of a typo error.
      I’m sure you are doing a wonderful job of helping those in needs, within your resources!

  7. Andrew says:

    Gilbert, it’s very admirable from you to do all these counselling on a volunteering basis and certainly kudos to all the other volunteers too. Nonetheless, I had met some candidates that were referred by you and here are some of my feedback. I felt that though some can certain use more training on being more confident during interviews but the majority still lack the dilligent to do the necessary homework in finding out more about their prospective employers. This is very disappointing as their CVs do stand out thus I called them in for an interview but the minute they were asked on the organisation, they fumbled. As for the other group that didn’t make it for the interview are those that asked for a pay scale that aren’t realistic and seems very uninterested in their application.
    At this moment, I’m in the midst of recruiting and I’m very keen to employ a matured staff though I can’t pay much due to the nature of the organisation but I would say the incumbent will be expose to many learning opportunities on the job. As for the young ones that applied, many have very unrealistics goals due to their colourful overseas academic qualifications and job hop so frequently. So IMHO, our matured PMETs can easily win over any prospective employers if only they be more diligent in preparing themselves and kinda being more humble. Well I’m still searching for the right candidate to appear and wish everyone here the best of luck in your job search.

  8. [...] Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed [...]

  9. charmer says:

    Hi Andrew

    If you’re on the look out for matured exec pl drop me an email at

    Will be glad to send you my CV for your kind consideration.


  10. Sal says:

    im in my 40s….previously from manufacturing and now in service sector.sometimes you need to see where the future demand is.

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