Thursday 30 May 2013

Youth jobless rate one of world's lowest

It is 6.7% here; grads get quality job offers, says minister
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 29 May 2013

SINGAPORE'S youth unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 6.7 per cent, Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday.

In comparison, six out of 10 graduates in Greece remain out of a job for months and in Taiwan, the youth unemployment rate stands at 13 per cent, he added, citing the respective government statistics.

The minister also said that most tertiary graduates receive "quality job offers" within six months.

Mr Tan revealed the Ministry of Manpower youth unemployment statistic at the graduation ceremony for 405 students from Republic Polytechnic (RP).

In a speech, he assured them that the Government would continue to provide people with good employment opportunities.

Mr Tan said the low youth unemployment figures showed Singapore is in a "good situation".

He added: "We hope to maintain it that way, keeping the labour market tight to make sure that it continues to be sufficiently attractive and growing in a sustainable way."

Mr Tan encouraged the graduates to continue learning and tap resources to upgrade their skills, even after entering the workforce.

Labour MP Ang Hin Kee told The Straits Times there are several reasons why polytechnic graduates can find jobs easily here.

"They have the right skills. Their vocation-specific training is very much relevant to the workplace. We have a vibrant economy that is expanding in many sectors and polytechnics are crafting courses to meet those demands."

Courses in nursing, childcare, hospitality, information technology, media and sports and events management are among those meeting industry needs, he added.

"I've heard that childcare teachers from polytechnics are all snapped up very fast," said Mr Ang. The former chief executive of the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute also noted that young graduates are "very versatile and well acquainted with different cultures".

A total of 4,060 RP students from 35 diploma programmes will graduate this year.

Mr Benny Yip, 26, one of the 54 health management and promotion graduates, chose the new course as it was "relevant to Singapore's population needs".

Some 145 students will be graduating from RP's new diploma courses, which include renewable energy engineering and wellness, lifestyle and spa management.

47% of firms here struggled to fill jobs this year: Survey
By Toh Yong Chuan, And Eugene Chua, The Straits Times, 29 May 2013

SINGAPORE'S labour crunch is getting worse and more firms are having difficulties hiring, according to a global human resources firm.

Forty seven per cent of the 647 companies surveyed by ManpowerGroup this year struggled to fill jobs, up from 37 per cent last year.

Blue-collar jobs such as labouring were the hardest to fill along with professional, managerial and executive positions in fields including engineering and teaching.

Companies gave The Straits Times varying reasons for their hiring woes.

Seng Heng Engineering was unable to find an IT specialist to run its computer operations for six months.

"The applicants either have the knowledge but no attitude, or have the attitude but no knowledge," said its human resources and administration executive Violet Ong.

Offering high pay does not necessarily attract Singaporean workers either, said some firms.

Lewe Engineering in MacPherson is willing to pay around $3,000 a month for a mechanical and electrical engineer with three years' experience, but there have been no Singaporean takers.

Some jobs have an image problem, adding to firms' difficulties.

Scrap metal firm Kim Hock Corporation advertised for a site supervisor post paying up to $3,000 a month. Eight weeks later, it remains vacant.

"We have employed some in the past, who simply stopped showing up after one or two weeks, said company executive Tan Suat Hui. "They disappeared and were uncontactable."

Although firms face hiring woes, labour MP Patrick Tay said vacancies in professional jobs are opportunities for Singaporeans. While younger workers may prefer to work in banking and finance, they ought to consider opportunities in growing sectors like health care and construction, he added.

Experts say the labour crunch will force firms to rethink their hiring strategies. ManpowerGroup's Singapore manager, Ms Linda Teo, said companies have "to do more with less", including retraining and retaining their existing workers.

Mr Martin Gabriel, a senior consultant with human resources firm HRmatters21, thinks companies may even have to tailor positions to workers' expectations, instead of having a standard job requirement template.

The hiring crunch could cause some businesses to close, warned Mr Chan Chong Beng, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises. "In the current labour market, it is the workers who put their companies on probation, not the other way around," he said with a sigh.


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