It was reported in the media today (‘Job-search struggles of vulnerable PMETs aged over 40‘, 16 Mar) that a general manager of a local firm, Ms Melinda Eng, 50, had a hard time finding a job after she was retrenched.
Ms Eng was asked to leave in 2016 when the business environment turned sour and her company could no longer afford to pay her monthly salary of $5,000.
Since then, she has applied for well over 100 jobs but met with little success. As she needs to support both her parents, she was willing to lower her pay expectations. However, those few companies which interviewed her did not believe she would be willing to accept markedly lower pay.
Out of necessity, she tried a handful of gig jobs, from car sales and selling car insurance, to private-hire driving as well as kitchen help. “When I went into car sales, they told me they usually don’t hire people who are so old. I was only 46 then,” she recalled.
Then, she ran into financial difficulties last year when she could not keep up with loan payments and was forced to take up the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) which is a pre-bankruptcy scheme administered by the government under the Bankruptcy Act.
To facilitate debt repayments as well as to support her family, she eventually ended up working as a clerk for a local importer earning only $2,500 a month. This is only $100 more than the minimum salary of a foreign S-Pass holder.
Ms Eng hopes at least the clerical job will help tide her over her current financial difficulties.
Another Singaporean PMET who is now working as a human resource manager, also remembers the difficult time when he lost his job and applied for hundreds of jobs with no success while having to support a wife and three children.
“It is really a struggle when you have family responsibilities and you are not employed,” he recalled.
Government says to upskill
Meanwhile, West Coast GRC MP Patrick Tay, who is also the assistant secretary-general of NTUC said that society needs to accept the older workers and older workers need to upskill themselves.
“Because of our ageing population, it makes those who are over 40 extremely vulnerable. Our retrenchment numbers are not big but PMETs make up over 70 per cent,” he said.
“Society as a whole needs to embrace the ageing workforce … How open are we to hiring mature workers? This is very important.”
“Then it’s also down to mature workers themselves… to equip themselves with in-demand skills. You can’t stop learning, because your skills quickly become obsolete.”