Andrew Ong

Recent news have been filled with retrenchments, retrenchments and more retrenchments.

It is quite disturbing to read how companies have heartlessly ‘axed’ their employees whom they deem as “excessive” in order to ride through the slowdown.

Judging from the recent comments by the Labour Chief, Mr Lim Swee Say, who conveniently also happens to be a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, it’s clear that we should expect no one to owe us a job or pay cheque; not even our government.

I’m not sure about you, but seeing these unfold each day has given me pause and to seriously think about my career path.

Everything increases except our pay

It is not uncommon for us to bemoan how daily expenses for our standard of living have rocketed, but the same cannot be said of our monthly income.

From a globalised marketplace standpoint, where Singapore is competing with low-cost labour countries like India and China (without even mentioning our regional neighbours), I think the harsh truth is that if we increased our income level any higher, it would erode Singapore’s competitiveness and business appeal.

This is the reality that we’ll need to firstly come to terms with and accept. We need to renounce the ‘crutch mentality’ and make the best of what we have.

If we are lucky enough to have any sort of increment regardless of the dire economic situation, we should be grateful.

Nonetheless, salaries do differ exponentially across the gamut of industries and the types of jobs we are in. So this might not apply to you if you are in a niche industry like the Oil & Gas or Civil Service working as a Minister.

The way out is…

After managing your expectations with our reality and if you find that you are a person who is easily satisfied with whatever you have and have no qualms in having others determining your worth and job security, you can choose not to take any action.

However, if you desire to earn more and do not want a ‘glass ceiling’ to your income level, then some practical actions might need to be taken in order to get to that ideal position.

In my opinion, I think there two routes we can consider in ‘escaping’ from the system. One of it is to start our own businesses and the other is to switch to politics and join PAP or sales where much of our salary is dependent on sales commissions.

I think both these routes are career paths that reward us fairly and according to our effort invested and performance delivered.

Maybe some of us can take the opportunity of the approaching year-end by doing a ‘stock check’ to re-evaluate our careers.

We can seize the opportunities that are there for the taking in this situation by planning ahead on how we can take our career to the next level in the coming New Year.


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