Thursday, November 19, 2009

Structural Unemployment in Singapore

We are told to work for as long as we can and if possible never retire.

However, once you reach 45 and above, finding a job is a challenge. Older Singaporeans have struggled with this problem for many years. Recently the MoM came out with a set of guidelines on the re-employment of older workers[Link]. These set of guidelines will lead to legislative changes in 2012. So 3 years from now we will discover these guidelines to be inadequate and ineffective. Why?

Our structural unemployment problem is caused by our liberal foreign worker policy which brought hundreds of thouands of young workers from India, China, Phillipines etc. Our workforce demographics has been distorted by this high influx. With a large pool of young workers available why would employers try to retain or hire older Singaporean workers? Remember in the past we never had the structural unemployment problem because during the boomtime, employers will have a hard time find workers and they are 'forced' to hire older workers and give them a chance.

You can read about what the MoM is trying to do. It does not get to the heart of the problem and when we get to 2012 another 3 years will be wasted and many more seniors will be struggling to stay afloat.

52-year-old tried CDC job-matching, but still draws a blank
I REFER to the letter, "Hiring seniors", by Ms Jackie Chew last Saturday.
She is not the only one who has been experiencing difficulty in finding employment.
I am 52 years old and the sole breadwinner of my household. I lost my job in August and have tried job matching via community development councils (CDC). I sent in numerous applications, attended numerous interviews and still drew a blank - no replies, no phone calls whatsoever.
Some jobs in the administrative field require women only or someone who can "liaise with Mandarin-speaking customers", which puts me out of the running, even though I have administrative experience of more then 20 years.
I hope local employers would reconsider their age restriction policy, and like Ms Chew, I am not giving up hope just yet.
Sazali Arshad
Please don't belittle older job applicants

I REFER to last Saturday's letter by Ms Jackie Chew, 'Hiring seniors: Too many firms still unsupportive'.

What does it take to get a job after age 56? I found out the hard way that trying all ways is of no help.

I am 59 and I am experiencing the same discouraging questions and remarks from potential employers.

The often pointed interviews go like this:

'So you have no more housing and car mortgages to service. Your children are all grown up now. You are now a free man. But this job calls for hard work.

'You can't take this job to pass your time.'

I also note that younger supervisors prefer to work with subordinates younger than them.

Still, I am not giving up.

Hiring firms and bosses should be more humane in their interviews. Please do not belittle us.

Those who interview older applicants should remember that one day, they too will join our ranks and taste the same bitter pill.

Tan Siang Eng
Hiring seniors
'Too many firms still unsupportive.'

MS JACKIE CHEW: 'What does it take to get a job? I found out the hard way that trying all ways is of no help if one is aged 56, like me. While I read of earnest government efforts to encourage people to work until they are 65, the reality is far from encouraging. An example: When I answered a job ad, the first question I was asked was my age, followed by the remark that the company was looking for applicants aged 30 or younger. Too many firms are still unsupportive. Firms should also be more diplomatic in conveying their age-restrictive policy. Still, I am not giving up.'


Anonymous said...

With a $3m a year salary, I can see why MM says retirement means death. ;-p

Anonymous said...

fisticSuch a waste of expertise and experience when older workers are made to quit the workforce. Where there is a ready supply of younger workers demanding low wages and with almost zero job security due to a very compliant union, I am afraid the senior worker have to accept that as they get towards 50+ of age, they should make way for cheaper, better and faster workers from foreign land. Sorry, that is the fact of life here in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

However bad it is, but will these affect the outcome at the next elections?

If the effect is minimal, just like many other negative things here, then most likely the situation will continue or even worsen.

But the streets will still be peaceful, property prices will still go up, stock market will still go up, restaurants packed, MRT, buses also packed, more cars on the roads, ERP also up, minister salaries still high, etc etc. These indicators are more important because they are very visible and symbols of growth and good life, unlike unemployment.

Which govt will not feel assured?

Anonymous said...

God help those who help themselves

you helped to put them in power, plz don't comprain

Anonymous said...

To keep older workers employed is an aspiration. No one say it will work. I notice they have increased the property tax on HDB property. Good show.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

The government is implementing cosmetic policy changes without addressing the root problem.

No matter whether you are blue-collar or white-collar, a fresh graduate or an experienced manager - the fact remains that at every level foreign workers will always come in younger, cheaper and better than you.

Due to our abysmal birth rate caused by the government's "stop at two" policy, Singaporeans are gradually becoming extinct even while foreigners pour in by the 100,000s to keep up with the government's lust for GDP growth.

"Our" future belongs to the foreign workers.

And the ever-shrinking inner circle who benefits the most from this policy.

Anonymous said...

the interviewers now is most likely to be FTs. so no prize for guessing who gets the job.

Anonymous said...

Why is there no law on equal opportunity employment? In the US, it is against the law to based hiring decision on race, sex, age, marital status etc. The government will even apply statistical analysis on employment at big corporations and fine them if their hiring demonstrates discriminations.

Until there is a written employment law that is enforced, employers will continue to discriminate to maximize profits at the expense of individuals and families.

Anonymous said...

I believe that has never been any intention of the government to implement equal opportunity employment legislation. Now that we do not have any semblence of opposition in the Parliament, I doubt if anyone is going to raise this issue. We have created this monster and now we have to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Retirement means death? Well if we're going to have to work till our death, CPF is no longer necessary, hence CPFB must be shut down and all deposits must be returned immediately.

Anonymous said...

"Well if we're going to have to work till our death, CPF is no longer necessary, hence CPFB must be shut down and all deposits must be returned immediately."

i second that! yes, we need some mps (calling all mps who care, white or black or blue or pink) to bring this up in parliament!


Anonymous said...

"Well if we're going to have to work till our death, CPF is no longer necessary, hence CPFB must be shut down and all deposits must be returned immediately."

i second that! yes, we need some mps (calling all mps who care, white or black or blue or pink) to bring this up in parliament!


Anonymous said...

i work in the reserach industry. Out of a lab of 40 people, I am the only Singapore born Singaporean. I am feeling like the last of the mohicans down here.

Anonymous said...

...'God help those who help themselves you helped to put them in power, plz don't comprain'...

That is true. I voted for them in 1990s but not in the 2000s. thus, now i have to bear the consequences.

...'i work in the reserach industry. Out of a lab of 40 people, I am the only Singapore born singaporean. I am feeling like the last of the mohicans down here.'

i work in ntu. my bosses are foreigners from hk and china. they employ only their kind (majority). i left, eventually, for greener pastures overseas.

change for the better for our people is not possible now. it is too late.

Anonymous said...

He sure is a great leader, making himself indisposable. I believe even if he is brain dead they will pay him a a few million salary and keep him as MM - Mascot Minister. So much for sucession planning when you need to keep every retired PM as SM or MM. There will come a day when we have a bunch of senile old man supporting the PM

Anonymous said...

Anon 08.03

Since he said reitrement means death and with so many of us over 45plus are jobless and they not doing enough and at the same time letting in more FT, means they all want us 45plus to DIE??? hahahaha

Anonymous said...

MM is a great man and I respect him alot. However the last few years he seems to have change and maybe :

Been to China too often and newer perspective

Garhmen lose too much $$$$$ due to LOSS INVESTMENT in the financial crisis and now lose 'a bit' of standard???

Anonymous said...

Dont' talk about 65, when one hit 45 and are unemployed, the probability of getting a response for a interview to your job application is almost the same as striking 4D and that of securing a job most likely to be similar to that of striking Toto.

You can have all the legislation in place but what is the use if there is a preference to hiring cheaper and younger workers ? There will be so many ways to beat the system.

All these legislation is just a farce especially if the Govt keep allowing more & more foreign workers to come in and replace Singaporeans for jobs like tellers, cashiers, nurses, technicians, etc.

Just look at the banks, more & more Filipinos are working as tellers and at the retails stores and restaurants, even cashiers are slowly being replaced by Chinese workers.

At the rate they are going, more & more of these jobs previously available to Singaporeans will slowly be displaced by all these cheaper imports.

At whose expense, may I ask ?

Anonymous said...

The issue is the same as the chicken or egg issue. Which one comes first?

SMEs bosses have always complained that Singaporeans shun certain jobs. But I am wondering whether the Government has taken advantage of the situation by capitalising on this point. Conspiracy theory has that GLCs and MNCs hired many workers and thus by letting in many foreign workers, they will greatly benefit.

I am from the SME and I can say that not many Singaporeans are willing to work in my industry and this has been happening for quite some time (since the early 90s)

The issue is that whether the government has taken the issue of foreign workers too far? Alas, we will never have the facts, figures and capability to find out because we are a single party ruling nation. Maybe just like somebody has said, the damage may have become irreversible. They could have made the same mistake as in education, who knows? : )

However, in my opinion. the bilingual thingy is not too big of an issue. Many people my age just went along with the system and I know many people who worked really hard to do well in both languages. When I went abroad, I was proud of the fact that I am bilingual. Though I did not score A1s in both subjects, I was pretty confident in using the two languages. My own conspiracy theory about the bilingual thingy is more about personal selfish reasons where some people claim the system did not go down too well with the talented ministers' offsprings. My own take is that the consequence of having such a bilingual system is that it will just average out. My point is that you cannot discredit people who have also worked hard at the two languages and made it to the local universities. It is a fact that some people who are good in certain subjects missed out. But hey, that is the fact of life and doesnt the government always present themselves as people who are just so talented and resilient...and to swallow the bitter pill...

Anonymous said...

I am a towkay, and I will never give a 50 year-old man a chance. Won't even bother to give his resume anything more than a casual glance.

Why should I?

There are thousands of cheap, young foreign labour out there.

Loyalty is worth nothing in Singapore. Even our founding father did not join the underground movement during WW2. He did the smart thing, served the Japs, thrived and went on to achieve great things after that.

Why should I show any loyalty or brotherhood to a 50 year-old man when it doesn't help my bottom line or pay the rent?

Anonymous said...

Precisely that is what I detest about the attitude as shown by the above anon...

I do not blame the above anon, but I feel that the ruling government people are mostly the cause of it...

-Snigger at opposition in parliament
-gives off the impression that u people are stupid, i know everything
-i say what i want, what can you do to me
-sue people at their whim
-blatant disregard and respect for opponents, people interest etc
-obvious tentacles into the private business community and in turn create unfair bargaining power and advanatage and also create many undesirable outcomes
-remember somebody saying that many civil servants (i will also add GLCs people) acting like little lky
-use the positive pragmatism but actually is the ends justify the means
-numerous examples of being conceited and arrogant...

what the above anon said is quite true....our ruling government seem to perpetuate all the values that we are taught we are not supposed to have...humility is worthless...

Anonymous said...

no matter what they do, people definitely still vote for them.
So what is the diff?
Why shd they help u old people to find a job when a job given to FT can help to make more money?

Anonymous said...

Given the kind of advantage over employee or local by the govt, the employers has no incentive to look after the rights of the locals.

An entity generally will maximise the wealth of a shareholder. The entity will definately have no incertive to take care of the locals, given so many cheap foreign workers. There will be no such thing as social responsibility unless there is a policy to check on this.

Just look at the Singapore PR who is from mainland china, while they happily holding on to a job, I as freshie cannot find a job since 2 months ago. I still have to serve National Service.

I do not know but I feel I cannot find a job because of them!!!

Anonymous said...

C'mon Sporeans, you know the island better than this FTs.....make use of your knowledge/background to get what you want.

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Anonymous said...

I am only 41 and it has been so hard to even get a phone call from the employers. Have tried everything and even networking, job placmement agency. Even CDC also no use!

It has been frustrating when I see the FT have good jobs and having a good time making money in Singapore. And myself still have to serve NS to protect this nation.

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