Re-skilling crucial to avoid job mismatch

Re-skilling crucial to avoid job mismatch
PHOTO: Berita Harian

The heyday of high job growth is over.

Singapore aims to create 25,000 to 40,000 jobs annually for the next three to five years, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday.

Mr Lim, who was speaking at the sidelines of a job fair at Changi Airport, noted that the number of new jobs in the last two years had dropped significantly because of economic restructuring and an ageing workforce.

"We won't go back to the days of 100,000 to 120,000 jobs a year. The number will stabilise at the new base," he said.

Preliminary data released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) last month showed that 16,400 jobs were created last year, with 10,700 going to locals.

Local employment increased by an estimated 0.5 per cent last year, rebounding from the flat growth in 2015, said MOM.

This is a stark contrast from the past decade.

Between 2006 and 2014, more than 100,000 jobs were created each year, except for 2009, which saw only 37,600 new jobs amid an economic slowdown.

A job vacancies report released by MOM on Tuesday shows that nearly half of all available jobs last year were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

Mr Lim said more jobs in the coming years will be aimed at PMETs but raised concerns of a higher risk of mismatch between job-seekers and jobs.

Mr Patrick Tay, director of the PME unit at the National Trades Union Congress, told The New Paper that the U PME Centre, which gives advice to these workers, sees three types of mismatches.

They are:

  • Mismatch of skills, where job-seekers lack the requisite skills or experience
  • Mismatch of expectations, where employees and employers don't agree on areas such as remuneration
  • Mismatch of jobs, where the nature and type of job does not suit an individual because of his character, passion, interest, strength and weakness.

Mr Lim told Parliament on Tuesday that more than 1,300 PMETs secured conversions through the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) last year - 20 per cent higher than in 2015.

He was replying to a question by Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad on the challenges and take-up rate of the programme, which is aimed at helping mid-career PMETs to re-skill. But Mr Lim admitted it is more likely that mature PMEs would face greater difficulty with the programme because most jobs available are at entry level.

He said: "(It may) discourage mature PMEs, (because) for them to start all over again, at the bottom of a new career, (it) may be too painful."

Mr Tay agreed and said: "Changing into a new industry may be tough for many. The in-house PCPs offered will be a great boon as companies face disruption and internal churn.

"In the same vein, where possible, we should also find ways to allow PMEs to enter into jobs of adjacent industries or require adjacent skills.

"Also, we can find ways such that PMEs do not enter into a new industry like a fresh entrant but give some premium to their experience or allow them to progress on a different track."

This article was first published on February 9, 2017.
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