Ms Teo says PCP helps workers but doesn’t address the real issue of mass foreign imports

At her ministry’s annual workplan seminar held at Orchid Country Club yesterday (16 Apr), Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that career mobility would be the main thrust of her ministry’s Adapt and Grow programmes.

“Most want the opportunity to learn, to grow… This desire for career mobility is very similar to the desire for social mobility,” she told about 1,000 from her ministry and statutory boards, as well as union leaders.

In the seminar, she also highlighted the professional conversion programmes (PCPs) to help PMETs.

Mrs Teo said jobs continue to be created although their requirements have probably changed. She added that schemes like professional conversion programmes (PCPs) can help workers adapt to new jobs and growth sectors.

She highlighted former freelance business consultant Chan Kum Yew, 60, who moved into the infocomm technology sector through a PCP last year. “Mr Chan shows us that embracing technology can be rewarding and it is not just young people who can walk the tech journey successfully or extend their career mobility,” she said.

“There are good prospects for our workers to do better jobs and earn higher wages. This is provided they have the opportunity to learn new skills and also take it on themselves to adapt.”

PCP fails to address the real reasons of unemployment and underemployment in Singapore

Meanwhile, Gilbert Goh from Transitioning.org, who have talked to many unemployed Singaporean PMETs is less sanguine about PCP.

Gilbert saw many unemployed PMETs especially the older ones forced to downgrade their homes and even had to cope with divorce arising from money issues.

He met up with an unemployed Singaporean, Philip, last year.

Gilbert said, “Philip attended all the Skills Future courses and though laudable, it has not really helped him to be more employable and the on-going PCP (Professional Conversion Programme) has yet to really achieve it’s ultimate aim of providing people with relevant jobs after conversion. There are still talks of people looking for viable jobs after completing the PCP.”

“The PCP is not a rosy one-shop-fits-all kind of programme though, but it does help some who could transit smoothly to another career and one must also be nimble enough to step out into another strange work environment and lower pay scale,” he added.

“Our government tends to tinker at the margins with upgrading courses and even proper career counseling sessions for matured jobless PMETs while failing to address structural causes such as ageism and the growing problem of mass foreign imports.”

Foreigners circumventing MOM system to work in Singapore

It’s not surprising that foreigners are circumventing MOM’s ineffective system of control to get jobs in Singapore, depriving Singaporeans job opportunities even if they are qualified for the jobs.

Last Oct, a foreign software engineer posted a message on an expat forum asking for help. He revealed that he had actually been offered a new job in another company which he was quite keen to join. The problem was that the new company was having issues in getting MOM to approve EP of their new hires because of “bad foreigner to local ratio”.

To get around the problem, the company went ahead to get an agency, essentially a body shop, to hire him under the agency’s name. The foreign engineer said, “The problem is agency says they need to post ad on Job banks for 14 days then they will apply, ie in first week of November and then I have to wait for EP.”

That is to say the agency company had already decided to recruit the foreigner before putting up a job ad on the national Jobs Bank so as to enable him getting an EP, which of course completely defeats the purpose of having the Jobs Bank in the first place.

“MOM has rule that it does not allow simultaneous more than one application for a person so my issue is if my new employer apply for EP and it gets rejected and my old employer cannot apply for renewal then I will be in trouble,” he added.

“So I want to ask should I get my renewal done first and then apply for new EP or just directly apply for new EP and leave renewal?”

The question is, what chance does a Singaporean have regardless of how many MOM “upgrade” programmes he participated?