Based on a labour market report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (13 June), close to 70 per cent of residents who were retrenched in the first three month of the year came from the professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) group.
If that is not bad enough, the situation is bound to worsen for them as the employment outlook remain sour, say experts.
DBS senior economist Irvin Seah told The Straits Times (ST) that PMETs’ risk of losing their jobs are higher due to technological disruption and slowing economic growth.
Besides that, he also added that although he thinks that the situation will improve later in the year, but authorities’ failure to tighten their policies in recruiting mid-to-high-skilled roles is also another contributing factor to the high retrenchment rate.
Another reason why PMETs are vulnerable to retrenchment is because of job-skill mismatch as they generally need deep expertise, said National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay to ST.
MOM report also noted that seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate for residents below 30 increased from 0.5 per cent to 0.9 per cent in first quarter of the year, after trending down from December 2017.
This percentage refers to those in the labour force who remain unemployed for at least 25 weeks.
Since a bulk of job hunters resign from their previous employment due to job dissatisfaction, MOM pointed out that there’s a higher chance for them to invest time to hunt for a better job match.
However, Mr Tay warned that these individuals will find it harder to re-enter the workforce if they remain out of it too long. As such, he said apprenticeships, internships and work trial programmes are made available with the intention to help them secure new employers or move to different industries, noting that NTUC can do more to provide support.
On the other hand, Mr Seah said that it is a worrying trend for the younger Singaporeans’ employment prospects given that this is the first time in years that there’s a sharp hike in long-term unemployment for residents under 30.
The MOM report also highlighted that although the six-month re-entry rate for retrenched residents increased for a second consecutive quarter to 66 per cent, things are not the same for those below 30.
In addition, PMETs and degree holders sustained below-average re-entry as well although their rates have improved from Q1 2018, MOM noted.
Additionally, job openings recorded to be more now compared to the same period a year ago, with PMET vacancies contributing to the large portion of it. These vacancies are plenty in areas like financial services and professional services.
Upon reading this report, many netizens raised their concerns highlighting that they (PMETs) have to suffer with the current market situation. Commenting on ST’s Facebook page, they added that more employers are hiring foreigners for positions that are meant for the locals, citing cheap labour.
On the other hand, a fraction of online users pointed out that employers are reluctant to hire seniors, urging the government to “step in or draw a new guideline” to help them.
Facebook user Livia Ong pointed out that it is worrying to see that employers are replacing retrenched residents with non-Asian expats. She added if employers are not giving locals a chance to develop their skills and progress in their job, then it will result to them “forever not be able to take on global roles, progress upwards”.
As such, she wants the Ministry to “look into the hiring practices of companies including global MNCs” so residents will be given equal opportunity to improve themselves so they will be an asset to companies.