The Straits Times published a news article today saying that the Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) career matching efforts to help the unemployed Singaporeans is paying off (‘WSG’s career matching efforts pay off‘, 31 Jul).
WSG is a statutory board under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), set up to oversee the transformation of the local workforce and industry to meet “ongoing economic challenges”.
Yesterday (30 Jul), WSG announced that some 10,000 local residents had found jobs through its career matching services in the first half of this year, despite the muted economic outlook due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It said it had organized many virtual and physical career fairs in the past few months.
WSG CEO and EDB scholar Tan Choon Shian told the media, “With the pandemic changing the way we work and transforming industries at a much accelerated pace, we encourage our job seekers to keep an open mind to look beyond what is familiar to take on jobs in new roles or even new sectors, and embrace reskilling to stay relevant and attractive to employers when hiring demand picks up again.”
Among the beneficiaries of WSG’s career matching efforts is Mr Alvin Lim, 48, who was retrenched last year for the fourth time in 12 years. To make matters worse, his father passed away in February.
“I was feeling very sad and down about being retrenched. I wondered ‘why me again’. And when my father passed away it added to my emotional stress,” said Mr Lim, who had lost his job as a customer operations manager in the travel industry.
He approached WSG, which helped him get a temporary job manning a government hotline in April. However, it was cancelled a few days before he was due to start. Then in May, WSG got him another job. It’s a contract work involving him leading a team of people to conduct surveys for MOM. His boss has since extended his contract in recognition of his good performance.
“It doesn’t mean that contract roles don’t help at all. It may be a three-month job but it could lead to something else, you have to take that first step,” Mr Lim, who is a father of 2 teenagers whom he has to support, said.
WSG principal career coach Belinda Boo also told the media that there are still opportunities. She advised job seekers to be open to opportunities in other sectors or job types. Job seekers can also seek professional career guidance, she added. The career coaches at the WSG’s Careers Connect centres she said, can also lend a listening ear to job seekers.
Foreign expat in travel industry still holds on to job
Meanwhile, it was reported in SCMP last month that foreign expats in Singapore have also been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic (‘In Singapore, expatriates hit by coronavirus pay cuts, lay-offs fear for future‘, 11 Jun).
One of the expats highlighted by SCMP also works in the same travel industry as Mr Lim. It was reported that the expat’s pay was cut from S$7,500 to S$6,000. His wife, Martha Liv, told SCMP that they now “struggles” to balance the home expenses with their reduced income of S$6,000.
She said she has to find ways to stretch her husband’s pay check. She now shops at the wet markets like the locals do, instead of high-end supermarkets. She buys regional ingredients rather than those imported from the West and manages the household while looking after their 17-month-old son without domestic help.
“It’s not cheap living here,” Martha said. “We’re taking from our savings for our normal expenses. How many months can you live on your savings?”
It’s not known why the expat family of 3 is having a hard time living in Singapore with their monthly income of S$6,000. But at least Martha’s husband still has a job, unlike Mr Lim. Yet, there is still much insecurity among the expat community, according to Martha.
In any case, Ministry of Health (MOH) issued a press statement last month saying that more foreign pass holders who are still outside of Singapore will be able to return back, as Singapore reopens to international travel. The government said it will approve the return of these work pass and dependant pass holders to Singapore accordingly (‘Foreign expats eagerly await to return to Singapore amidst reopening of international travel‘).
Unfortunately, some of the returning foreign expats would inevitably also bring in the coronavirus especially those from India and the Philippines (‘107 imported COVID-19 cases since Phase 2 Re-opening with nearly 80% from India and Philippines‘).