Friday, 10 February 2017

Annual job growth of 25,000 to 40,000 for next three to five years: Lim Swee Say

By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 9 Feb 2017

Singapore aims to create about 25,000 to 40,000 jobs annually for the next three to five years, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday.

This is lower than in the heyday of growth, when about 100,000 to 120,000 jobs were created yearly.

Mr Lim noted that in the past two years, there was a significant decline in job creation amid the ongoing economic restructuring to focus more on higher-skilled jobs.

He therefore expects the new base to have a bigger proportion of better-quality jobs.

Official figures support the optimism he expressed to reporters at a job fair, where 2,300 jobs were up for grabs.

The 2016 job vacancies report that his ministry released a day earlier showed that a growing proportion of job openings for professional, manager, executive and technician (PMET) positions remain unfilled.

Of the 53,800 vacancies last year, 48 per cent were PMET positions, compared with 39 per cent three years earlier, said the report.

This rise, however, comes with a higher risk of mismatch between job seekers and job openings, Mr Lim said.

Job seekers may not know where to look, what jobs are available, or may not have the necessary skills or experience for the available jobs.

"If we want to succeed in keeping the unemployment rate in check, we need to do more," said Mr Lim, noting that unemployment rose to 3 per cent last year after staying at around 2.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent for three years.

But he noted that Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute helped to successfully match about 20,000 people to jobs last year.

"We want to build on this momentum," he said, as he outlined three key goals for his ministry this year.

One is to enhance the professional conversion programmes to help mid-level workers take on new careers in a different industry. Now, the focus is on entry-level professionals.

However, Mr David Leong of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting said the effect of these programmes may be limited.

Citing the healthcare sector, he said: "Even after they go for the conversion programmes, few people stay on in healthcare."

The other two goals are to match the growing pool of older PMETs to jobs at small and medium-sized enterprises, and to reach out to all segments of the workforce, in which a big proportion are non-PMETs.

"We have to make sure our support programme is an inclusive one," Mr Lim said, adding that more can be done for job seekers with disabilities, women returning to work and rank-and-file workers.

Fewer job vacancies in 2016, but more openings for PMETs
Big demand for management executives, Web developers and teaching professionals
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 8 Feb 2017

Teaching professionals, Web developers and management executives are high on the list of positions that bosses are struggling to fill.

As a result, almost half of all job vacancies last year, 48 per cent, were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

The figure has risen steadily from 2013, when it was 39 per cent, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in its latest report on job openings, released yesterday.

The reason for the increase is the ongoing restructuring of the economy to focus more on higher- skilled work, said MOM.

Vacancies refer to job openings for which employers are actively recruiting workers from outside their companies.

Experts said it is a good sign that demand is strong for higher-value jobs, but they worry about mismatches in the PMET sector between employers and workers' expectations, as well as between the actual skills of workers and the skills needed. "With the Smart Nation push and tech skills being sought after, non-tech-savvy PMETs who lose their jobs may not find it easy to get a new one," said UOB economist Francis Tan.

Mr Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress and chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said the figures emphasise the need to minimise gaps in expectations of employers and workers.

"Despite a relatively low unemployment rate, tight labour market and higher job vacancies in certain sectors, we need to find new ways to overcome the LTU (long-term unemployed) challenge because that is the group which is most vulnerable and in need," he said in a Facebook post.

Most of the PMET vacancies are in sectors such as community, social and personal services; financial and insurance services; professional services; and information and communications.

PMET vacancies were filled faster than rank-and-file openings, with only about two in 10 PMET positions staying open for at least six months.

The biggest hurdles employers cited were the lack of relevant work experience and candidates finding the pay unattractive.

For example, for software, Web and multimedia developers, many candidates lacked work experience and specialised skills.

For registered nurses and enrolled or assistant nurses, employers pointed to unattractive pay and shift work as the main reasons for the unfilled vacancies.

As for non-PMET openings, more than half were not filled for at least six months, particularly for service and sales workers.

Working conditions such as longer work hours, shift work and the physically strenuous nature of the jobs continue to deter locals, the ministry said in its report.

Overall, the number of job vacancies has been shrinking in the past two years, amid a slower economy and push for higher productivity.

A total of 53,800 jobs were up for grabs as of end-September last year, down from 60,000 in the previous year and the 2014 peak of 67,400.

One employer struggling to find staff is StarVision Information Technology.

Managing director Jason Lim said the company, which provides mobile e-commerce solutions, has been hungry for app developers for several years.

"Maybe people are unsure about joining SMEs, and I think not many people are trained in software development yet," he said.

Meanwhile, PMET worker B. Chan, 26, has been looking for a corporate communications position for the past year, but most vacancies are for people with three to five years of work experience.

He has about 11/2 years of experience in public relations. "Often, they want a person who has managed a team, which is usually rare for people with less than two years of work experience."

The ministry said employers should review their requirements for work experience to widen their pool of prospective candidates.

"This will provide more opportunities for young job entrants and mid-career PMETs to build up their domain knowledge and experience on the job," it said.

Over 2,300 positions on offer at Changi Airport fair
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 9 Feb 2017

More than 2,300 jobs are available at a Changi Airport career fair that began yesterday.

Among the positions available are those in airline and airport operations, engineering, retail and customer service.

A range of adapt-and-grow programmes - aimed at helping mid- career job seekers move into new careers in different industries - was available in areas such as aircraft maintenance and sales.

The two-day fair at the airport's Crowne Plaza hotel comes ahead of the opening of Terminal 4 later this year. It is organised by Workforce Singapore, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Employment and Employability Institute.

"With the new terminals opening at Changi Airport, the air transport sector presents many opportunities for job seekers, whether they are looking to return to the workforce or for a career switch," said NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong.

Last month, it was reported that SkillsFuture Singapore is conducting a study - expected to be completed in July - on upcoming jobs in the aviation sector, as well as the skills needed to perform these jobs.

A "virtual" job fair, ending on Feb 22, will be conducted online.

Through the fair's website, job seekers will be able to talk with employers at selected times through a live-chat application.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who attended the career fair, described Changi Airport as a "major employment hub".

He said such fairs were a good way of matching job seekers to suitable openings.

More than 2,000 people attended the fair yesterday.

Among them was Mr Muhammad Ridhwan Jamil, who applied for the positions of flight dispatcher and control operations officer.

The 26-year-old - who holds a diploma in hospitality and tourism management from Temasek Polytechnic - currently works as a part-time sales associate and has been looking for full-time employment for two years.

He hopes to upgrade himself further to increase his employment opportunities. "For now, I hope I can get a job that I like, and that I can work at on a more long-term basis," he said.

'Perma-temps' the new reality for many in a changed Europe
More than half of new jobs created in EU since 2010 have been through temporary contracts
The Straits Times, 11 Feb 2017

LONDON • After graduating with degrees in accounting and finance from a university in Finland, Mr Ville Markus Kieloniemi thought he would find at least an entry-level job in his field.

He studied potential employers, tailoring his applications accordingly. He wound up churning through eight temporary jobs over the next three years. He worked as a hotel receptionist and as a salesman in men's clothing stores, peddling tailored suits and sportswear.

"It's hard to manage your finances or even get housing, let alone start a career," said Mr Kieloniemi, 23, who added depth to his resume by accepting unpaid office jobs and internships in New York and Spain, mostly at his own expense.

"You feel pressure all the time."

Meet the new generation of "perma-temps" in Europe.

While the region's economy is finally recovering, more than half of all the new jobs created in the European Union since 2010 have been through temporary contracts. This is the legacy of a painful financial crisis that has left employers wary of hiring permanent workers in a tenuous economy where growth is still weak.

Under European labour laws, permanent workers are usually more difficult to lay off and require more costly benefit packages, making temporary contracts appealing to all manner of industries, from low-wage warehouse workers to professional white-collar jobs.

For those stuck in this employment netherworld, life is a cycle of constant job searches. Confidence can give way to doubt as career prospects seem to fade. Young people talk of delaying marriage and families indefinitely. And though many are grateful for any workplace experience, they are also cynical about companies that treat them like disposable labour.

What follows is a selection of experiences from this growing group of perma-temps.


Dr Alessandra Sisco, a doctor who specialises in treating cancer patients, never dreamed she would have to leave her home in Italy to find steady work. But in a stagnant economy, she was trapped in a web of short-term contracts.

Since finishing her five-year oncology residency in 2012, she has only been able to get three- to five-month temporary contracts that Italy's public and private hospitals largely rely on to manage staffing. The full-time jobs often went to people from well-connected families, or those with ties to senior hospital officials.

The 35-year-old became stuck in a loop, trying to divine whether her jobs might be extended, and struggling to land another position since they usually were not.

"I'd fix up my resume all the time, and that's your life," Dr Sisco said. "I was constantly looking for something else," she added. "I was held back. There was no professional growth, and the earnings were low."

Temporary employees are paid an average of 19 per cent less than their permanent counterparts, according to Eurofound, the research arm of the European Union. Last November, she interviewed for hospital internships in New York. ''At least there would be hope for the future," she said.

Temporary work has become widespread in the United States too, where the explosion of the so-called gig economy has made job hopping the new norm for a growing pool of young workers. But the situation is verging on the extreme in Europe, giving the perniciousness of the problem the potential to play on an entire generation. Millions of people across Europe are searching for work amid jobless rates that are still nearly twice as high as in the United States.


At 36, Mr Sam Mee thought his life would have been settled by now. A career in research and social policy. A family. A home. At the very least, a cellphone. But even the basics can be unachievable, as Mr Mee finds himself on a treadmill of temporary contracts. "I had this idea that I would study hard, work hard, get the job I studied for, then ask my girlfriend to marry me," he said.

A British national, Mr Mee thought his master's degree in social analysis would make him attractive to companies and non-governmental organisations that research behaviours and trends. "I'd buy a house and have kids," he said. "That was the dream."

He moved to Amsterdam before the financial crisis to be with his girlfriend and to start his career. Yet in a country where more than 20 per cent of job contracts are temporary, he was never able to find permanent work in his area of expertise. He now has a temporary contract with a firm that does business-to-business collections, and his work includes calling airlines to settle outstanding invoices.

The temporary work trend is accelerating in Europe, as employers seek more flexibility to fire and hire workers, and shun permanent contracts with expensive costs and labour protections. In Spain alone, the government reported that 18 million temporary contracts were handed out last year, compared with 1.7 million long-term jobs.

Temporary contracts blocked more than just Mr Mee's career. Real estate agents were reluctant to deal with him, and it was impossible to get a mortgage at the bank. He also could not obtain a credit card as he lacked steady income. Even cellphone companies would not give him a contract; he had to get one through his girlfriend, who has a full-time job as a midwife. Mr Mee put his personal life on pause.

"I want a career more than anything, but I feel like I'm in a position where a 25-year-old would be," he said. He has hired a job coach and set up his own website to improve his prospects. "I was forced to put off life's big decisions."

"You feel stuck," Mr Mee added. "You're young, you have a lot to offer, but no one will give you a chance."


Mr Charles Terraz never used to live with chronic stress, health scares or recurring anxiety. But these days, they have become close companions as he bounces through a series of temporary contracts as a recruiter at industrial and pharmaceutical companies, each of which leaves him a little more drained and racked by uncertainty about his career.

Armed with a master's degree in human resources and economics and business degrees, Mr Terraz, a native of Lyon, France, was confident of finding work at a large company. Yet in the country's struggling economy, where more than 80 per cent of all new hires are temporary, that proved virtually impossible.

"There's a lot of stress about the future and money," said Mr Terraz, who is 29. "The fear of becoming unemployed weighs on you."

That precariousness fuelled sleepless nights and nagging self-doubts. He sustained severe stress and recurring migraines, spending two weeks recovering in hospital.

"It was a horrible experience," he said.

Perhaps no group has felt the sting of the economic fallout more sharply than millennials. More than 40 per cent of Europe's young people are now stuck in a revolving door of low-paid, temporary work.

Today, Mr Terraz is a recruiter at a French pharmaceutical company, but only for six months. The stress over money and finding the next job remains. "You have to keep a smile and be mentally strong," he said. In private, though, "you feel excluded from society". "Three years ago, I had dreams, ambitions for a great career," he added. "But right now I have nothing. It's hard not to feel a sense of burnout or depression sometimes. If I was the only one this was happening to, okay, but most of my friends are in the same position."


Job Vacancies 2016: 5 in 10 job vacancies are PMET jobs; mainly education, healthcare, infocomm and service-related occupations

Committee on the Future Economy 2017 report

No comments:

Post a Comment