When it comes to offering advice to job seekers, SGUnited officers may “lack comprehensive understanding” in doing so as they do not look at job descriptions thoroughly, said Senior Consultant at HRmatters21, Martin Gabriel.

“SGUnited is a one-stop organisation. In that sense, it covers a wide ground without the job seekers looking for help from multiple organisations. However, their officers do not look at the job seekers’ job description with depth, and as such, their advice may lack comprehensive understanding,” Mr Gabriel told TOC.

He added that it is important for a job description to be “analysed meticulously by those in that job line in partnership with the HR”.

SGUnited offers a list of programmes and services to help job seekers increase their skillsets so they become more employable.

In 2020, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced SGUnited Job initiative as part of the Resilience Budget to help Singaporeans, including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to secure immediate short-term and longer-term job opportunities or pick up job-related skills and capabilities.

Some of the programmes introduced under this initiative include SGUnited Traineeship Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathway Programme, which the Government has extended till 31 March 2022 due to the pandemic’s continuing impact on hiring.

SGUnited Traineeship Programme was initiated to help recent graduates from universities and polytechnics to improve their employability after the demand for hiring picks up after the pandemic by going through attachment with a company and receiving an allowance.

As for SGUnited Mid-Career Pathway Programme, it was launched to offer opportunities for mid-career individuals to take on a company attachment with host organisations to develop new skills and gain meaningful industry-relevant experience while receiving a training allowance.

During DPM Heng’s Budget 2021 speech, he noted an additional S$5.4 billion to a second tranche of the Jobs and Skills Package has been allocated to support the hiring of 200,000 locals this year, and provide up to 35,000 traineeships and training opportunities. This is on top of the S$3 billion allocated last year.

When asked on how to help job seekers upgrade, Mr Gabriel said there needs to be a “proper study of all the parts of the job description” to “identify a task that is becoming obsolete and to make a projection on learning new task/skills that would be needed tomorrow”.

Despite this, Mr Gabriel opined that some help from SGUnited is still better than not receiving any help at all.

The schemes offered under SGUnited were launched last year to help combat weakened hiring demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the unemployment rate statistics released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the overall unemployment rate for 2020 increased to 3 per cent, compared to 2.3 per cent the year earlier.

To be specific, the citizen unemployment rate increased to 4.2 per cent in 2020, from 3.3 per cent in 2019.

Meanwhile, the resident unemployment rate also went up to 4.1 per cent last year, compared to 3.1 per cent the year earlier.

Wage surveys are not the best method to set wages

Separately, Mr Gabriel also pointed out that the best way to determine remuneration rate for employees is to look at job evaluation and job sizing, adding that wage surveys are just one of the ways to decide what wages to pay staff members.

In response to the question of whether graduates to use survey results on their wage expectations, he said, “Wage surveys can be used as just one of the many factors. Companies themselves at times uses wage surveys to determine the remuneration of a newly created position,”

“The correct approach would be a job evaluation, and job sizing, but not all companies embark on these methods,” Mr Gabriel added.

Market forces is another deciding factor when it comes to salaries, said the senior HR consultant.

If there is a shortage of secretaries in the market, then a senior secretary would be paid a higher salary than an entry-level engineer despite the role of the engineer supposedly having a higher value than that of a secretary.

“An engineer has a larger job size than a secretary. However, if there is a shortage of good secretaries, then a senior secretary could even be earning more than an entry-level engineer, although the junior engineer’s job is of a higher value than a secretary,” said Mr Gabriel.

“That’s because a short supply for secretaries can drive up demand, and that translates into a wage war for good secretaries. A fresh graduate also does not have any past reference for employers to look at, and so both employer and employee are evaluating each other,” he added.

According to an annual joint graduate employment survey released on February this year, graduates who managed to secure full-time employment draw a higher median starting salary of S$3,700 in 2020, compared to only S$3,600 in 2019.

The survey also revealed that those in the information and digital technologies and engineering sectors still receive the highest salaries.

As for individuals in courses like computer science, cyber security and software engineering, they received the highest median gross monthly wage of S$4,760, as well as the highest rate of full-time permanent employment at 87.3 percent, the survey found.


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