Thursday 19 June 2014

National job bank draws firms, job seekers

Over 7,000 vacancies in national jobs bank
Firms, job seekers drawn to free trial version of website since last month
By Toh Yong Chuan and Amelia Tan, The Straits Times, 18 Jun 2014

A NATIONAL job database, the first of its kind, that aims to put Singaporeans first has yet to be launched, but it has already garnered interest from bosses and workers.

More than 1,700 employers and 9,000 job seekers have registered to use a trial version of the government job website since it was put up without fanfare last month.

A check on the website,, also showed more than 7,000 vacancies, from security officer jobs that pay $1,500 each month, to banking and auditing jobs that pay more than $10,000 monthly.

Human resource managers said they heard about the portal by word of mouth and were drawn to it because it is free.

They also want to learn how to use it by August, when it becomes mandatory for firms that want to hire foreign professionals to advertise for Singaporeans first on the national jobs bank. They have to advertise for at least 14 days before hiring skilled foreigners on Employment Passes (EPs).

Companies with 25 or fewer staff, as well as those hiring for jobs that pay $12,000 and above a month, are exempted.

Firms have to show proof to the Manpower Ministry that they have advertised on the portal before they can apply for an EP.

Ms Elinda Gan, director of sustainable water management systems firm Netatech Engineering, put up an advertisement last week seeking an environmental engineer, and received an application from a Singapore permanent resident.

"The jobs bank will be another way to let Singaporeans learn about the jobs we are offering. Hopefully, they will be willing to take up the jobs," she said.

The website is a bid by the Government to address growing complaints in recent years about companies - especially those in finance and information technology - hiring a large number of foreigners.

Run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the jobs bank aims to nudge firms into giving Singaporeans a fair chance at landing professional, managerial and executive jobs.

Bosses interviewed said hiring locals have always been their priority, but the problem is that some Singaporeans baulk at shift work or working for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mr Brenton Ong, human resource director of Concorde Hotel Singapore, advertised last week for a banquet operations manager.

He said: "Let's see the response of the locals for roles on the jobs bank. Then, we can judge for ourselves how hard it is to hire locals." No Singaporeans have applied so far.

A WDA spokesman said the trial version of the jobs bank was launched as part of "ongoing efforts to involve the public in the development of the portal". It said it will use the feedback to refine the portal before launching it in the second half of this year. WDA declined to say how much it spent to set up the jobs bank, citing confidentiality.

Although the jobs listings can be viewed by all job seekers, the WDA said only Singaporeans, permanent residents and Singapore-registered firms with SingPass accounts can access features such as job applications and post job vacancies.

Human resource experts like the website for its easy-to-use design. But some suggested the positions be categorised by job levels. Jobs are now sorted by sectors, such as engineering or hospitality.

Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm People Worldwide Consulting, said: "Jobs in the food and beverage sector, for example, span a broad range from rank-and-file to managerial. It is time-consuming to go through every job."

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