Mismatch of job skills, expectations - more under 30 'discouraged'

PHOTO: Reuters

Mismatch of skills, expectations lead more workers to give up looking for jobs: MOM

After he graduated with a degree in economics and finance in 2014, Mr Haziq Baharudin spent a year sending out hundreds of resumes as he looked for a permanent job.

Late last year, the 25-year-old decided it was time to give up on his job search after he failed to receive any responses.

He decided he would resume his search for a full-time position when the economy improves and joined his friends and started an F&B business.

Mr Haziq is part of a growing number of discouraged workers here aged under 30.

This year, there were 1,200 young discouraged workers, up from 700 last year. A discouraged worker is someone who is not actively looking for a job because he or she does not think that a search will yield results.

When the prevailing outlook in the economy is gloomy and there is a shortage of jobs, the incidence of discouraged workers tends to increase.

This year, there were 9,900 discouraged workers, up from 8,700 last year but lower than the 11,100 in 2009.

According to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) advance release on the labour force two weeks ago, 6,900 of discouraged workers - nearly 70 per cent - were aged above 50.

The under 30s were the second largest group at 12 per cent.

The MOM report cited some reasons for workers being discouraged - the belief that there is no suitable work available, employers' discrimination or the lack of necessary qualifications, training or experience.

National University of Singapore (NUS) labour economist Liu Hao Ming says it is hard to guess if young discouraged workers here are highly educated.

He said: "By definition, these individuals believe that they cannot find a job at the wage rate that is at or above their reservation wages (lowest wage rate at which a worker is willing to accept a particular type of job).

"It... is a mix of expectation of acceptable wages and probability of finding such jobs."

Mr Haziq admits that his chances of employment could have been limited because he insisted on getting a job in the creative industry.

Eventually, worry over his finances led him to set up SteamHaus with his friends.

SteamHaus sells steamed buns at events and has been quite successful so far.

He said: "I think I would be a lot more stressed if the business was going badly. I saved quite a bit during National Service and from my freelance jobs, but I was worried this would dry up."

NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser thinks that the number of young discouraged workers could rise if there continues to be a mismatch of skills and expectations between job seekers and employers.

He said: "Our young people have been brought up to believe in the Singapore Dream - they want to be able to purchase a flat, settle down and enjoy a decent standard of living. If their job prospects do not support that kind of aspirations, they would be rather discouraged."


This article was first published on Dec 12, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.