Govt sets aside extra $14m each year to help PMETs find new jobs

Local professionals, managers, executives and technicians, a group collectively called PMETs, will be given help to find jobs in new industries.

To this end, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will set aside an additional S$14 million each year over the next two years to equip this group with new job skills so they can make a new start.

This was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at an Adapt and Grow Career Fair at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Tuesday.

The additional funds brings the total funding for course fees and salary support for WDA's professional conversion programmes (PCPs) to S$40 million a year.

This fresh effort to boost job opportunities for PMETs comes a day after the release of the Ministry of Manpower's final Labour Market Report for Q1 2016; it had indicated that the unemployment rate for residents aged 50 and up had risen from 1.8 per cent to 2.2 per cent year on year.

Companies that have cut down their workforce in 2016

  • Tripda

    Rocket Internet's carpooling app, Tripda announced earlier this month that they would be organising a global shutdown of the platform.

  • Autodesk

    Autodesk a design-focused software announced early month that they will be laying off 925 positions, around 10 per cent of their entire workforce.

  • Yahoo

    Recently tech giant Yahoo confirmed that would be shedding 15 per cent of their entire workforce, and its also exploring other "strategic alternatives".

  • Yahoo

    Employees in Yahoo's Singapore office were notified of the layoffs on Feb 18.

  • Rakuten

    e-commerce platform Rakuten announced in Feb 2016 that they would be shutting down all their operations in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

  • Rakuten

    The platform probably faced a significant number of challenges in Malaysia, and they will be withdrawing to focus their efforts in countries like Japan and Taiwan.

  • Bombardier

    Bombardier will be cutting their workforce by about 7000 over the next two years.

  • Bombardier

    They will be cutting 580 jobs from their Belfast operation this year and potentially another 500 the following year.

  • Shell

    Multinational oil and gas company, Royal Dutch Shell operates in more than 70 countries and employ more than 94,000 people worldwide.

  • Shell

    Given the fact that oil prices have dropped by almost 70 per cent in less than two years, the company has already started cutting 10,000 jobs to try and recover from all their losses.

  • Devon Energy

    Devon Energy, a US oil producer, mentioned that 700 people would lose their jobs by the end of the Feb 18, 2016, and this is all in response to the current commodity price environment.

  • Top Glove

    Malaysian company Top Glove is currently the world's largest maker of natural rubber gloves with operations in 27 countries. The company announced that they would cut their foreign labour by 5 per cent due to rising costs and increasing automation.

  • Barclays

    Some 100 Barclays employees in Singapore were axed on Jan 21 in a drastic cost-cutting exercise which saw the bank exit multiple businesses across Asia.

  • Standard Chartered

    Global bank Standard Chartered had laid off a number of people in Singapore late last year as it axed 15,000 jobs globally.

  • Standard Chartered

    Its previous workforce globally was at 86,000, and currently employs about 7,000 staff in Singapore.

  • HSBC

    HSBC has announced that they will be freezing salaries and freezing hiring in 2016 globally in the battle to cut costs, affecting 3,000 Singapore employees.

  • Resorts World Sentosa

    According to a report on Straits Times, more than 30 employees at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) have been laid off earlier in February.

  • Resorts World Sentosa

    However, the lay offs was due to overstaffing and it is not an isolated case. There are currently about 12,000 people working at Resorts World Sentosa.

  • Maersk

    Maersk Line, one of the world's top container shipping companies, recently merged its Singapore and Hong Kong regional offices. Last November, it also shared new plans to reduce its network capacity and announced that it will be cutting 4,000 jobs.

  • STMicroelectronics

    STMicroelectronics will cut about 1,400 jobs and close its loss-making set-top box business, including 670 in Asia.

  • Goldman Sachs

    Goldman Sachs has been reducing the size of its investment-banking team in Singapore by about 30 per cent compared with the start of last year, according to a report from Bloomberg.

  • Credit Suisse

    Credit Suisse announced 4,000 job cuts globally, although no layoffs are expected in the Asia-Pacific region yet.

  • Royal Bank of Scotland

    Royal Bank of Scotland has also announced that they could be cutting as many as 80 per cent of the jobs in its investment banking unit over the next 4 years, and last year laid off "hundreds" in Singapore.

Mr Lim said he was most concerned about unemployed workers in this age bracket who have had higher education: "Many of them have years of work experience, so the challenge for them is to adapt their past work experience to make the transition into new careers."

He said that, with a growing mismatch between job opportunities and workers' existing skills, and in light of greater structural unemployment in the coming years, the PCP initiative was an important one.

He said: "A growing number of PMETs are going to find their job expertise no longer relevant to the job opportunities of the future. More of them will have to learn new skills and get a job in an area which they may not be familiar with."

The additional S$14 million a year will thus be used to run more PCPs to help PMETs, including mid-career switchers, pick up new skills and move into new jobs.

PCPs are typically offered in a place-and-train mode; under them, citizens and permanent residents are hired by a participating employer before starting training to acquire the knowledge and competency to take on the job.

Four PCPs designed for the retail, food services and events sectors were launched at the career fair on Tuesday, bringing the current number of such programmes to 31 across 14 sectors. By 2018, there will be PCPs in 20 different sectors under the Adapt and Grow initiative announced in this year's Budget.

The four new PCPs will provide job placement and skills-training for up to 80 individuals preparing for one of four new roles as retail store managers, assistant chefs, restaurant managers and project executives each year.

Michael Lim, director of human resources and information technology of SingEx, a company from the events industry participating in PCP, said: "When we get PMETs from other industries, the key requirement is that they must want to learn. The industry is not rocket science, but there is still a need to learn the business, and go beyond by applying what they have learnt to the role. That is what we are looking for."

WDA says it aims to place more than 10,000 Singaporeans and Singapore PRs in jobs by 2018. Seven thousand people have so far been placed in jobs through PCPs, which will be launched in sectors such as aerospace and public transport in the next few months.

The career fair on Tuesday was part of the first Adapt and Grow series of career fairs and workshops running this month; they will offer 3,000 jobs, 1,200 of which are targeted at PMETs.

The series will be held quarterly.

5 things Singaporeans should do in the economic slowdown

  • The gloomy outlook in 2016 is expected to result in higher retrenchment figures, a slowdown in employment and horrible news for a whole bunch of industries.
  • NTUC has spoken: They predict that in the first quarter of 2016, 234 workers in unionised companies could be retrenched, a 31 per cent increase from the first quarter of 2015.
  • No matter how useful you think you are to your company, there's a chance your boss thinks of you, yes you, as an unnecessary cost-especially if he can just dump all your work on the guy in the next cubicle.
  • Job hopping is nothing new in Singapore, and while the employment market is still pretty robust, don't quit without another job lined up unless you're okay with the fact that it's probably going to be harder to find a new one than it was last year.
  • Employers are going to find it harder to justify hiring a new guy, so you definitely don't want to be job hunting desperately at that time.
  • If you're a business owner and haven't bothered correcting certain inefficiencies, this is the time to do it, as you could be in for some tough times.
  • While businesses across the board are likely to feel the pinch, if you're in particularly vulnerable industries like tourism and manufacturing, now is the time to see if there are more efficient, more streamlined and cheaper ways to do what you do.
  • Even if you don't find yourself unceremoniously retrenched, if your company is badly affected you can expect a smaller (or even no) bonus, as many people did during the 2008 recession, or even a pay cut.
  • This is not exactly the best time to start a designer bag collection or plan a lavish shopping trip to the factory outlets in California.
  • Everyone's investment mix is different, but if you're a stock investor who buys and holds for the long-term, this may be a good year to monitor stock prices more closely.
  • At this point, many stocks are quite heavily undervalued, and property prices are still on the decline. It's anyone guess when they'll rebound, but for now, investors should pay attention.

This article was first published on June 15, 2016.
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