It’s a good thing that the unemployment rate has been so low for so many years. (Even right now, when redundancies are at a 7 year high, the unemployment rate amongst Singaporeans is a modest 3%.)
That’s because for those who do lose their jobs, life is really tough. There’s no such thing as unemployment insurance, which means your income immediately gets reset to zero. When you factor in home loans and cars loans, which many well-paid middle-aged PMETs commit to, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Retrenched PMETs are thus in a very unenviable position if they haven’t been saving and investing prudently during their working years. But giving them $500 worth of SkillsFuture credit isn’t going to do squat. Here are five things that might actually help.
Many retrenched PMETs need to overhaul their careers before they can find new jobs, especially if their skills have become obsolete or they’ve been working in a sunset industry.
The problem is, many haven’t the faintest idea what else they can do without taking too much of a pay cut.
Career counselling could be very useful for people facing this predicament, preferably counselling from HR experts who know what the job market is like and which industries have vacancies which aren’t already flooded with younger, cheaper hopefuls.
The Career Support Programme aims to offer PMETs who have been jobless for at least 6 months support and the chance to be employed in jobs paying at least $3,600 a month. Individuals might also receive training on the job or be sent for training courses.
Funding for retraining
At some point, many retrenched PMETs realise they need to pick up new skills in order to make themselves more employable.
The trouble is, being jobless and possibly still liable for home loan repayments and more, many do not want or cannot afford to fork out the cash to attend courses. The $500 SkillsFuture credit doesn’t go very far at all, especially for those who need to embark on longer courses of study that could last as long as a year.
There are some WSQ-accredited training programmes that are heavily subsidised for those who continue to work in the appropriate field after completion of the course. But these are only available for certain industries and certain job scopes, many of which are in lines that retrenched PMETs wouldn’t consider.
Finding a way to tap into fund that can be used for retraining would really help, especially for those looking to take courses that aren’t subsidised under any programme.
Although the JobsBank is available to retrenched job seekers, many complain that they haven’t had much success with it.
What would really benefit job seekers are the services of a professional recruiter, one who can tidy up their resume and sell them to companies who are actively looking to hire.
Retrenched PMETs should not underestimate the value of contacting headhunting agencies and keeping in close touch with their agents so they’ll think of them when a suitable vacancy comes their way.
We’ve all heard those horror stories of retrenched bankers who end up washing dishes to make ends meet.
Clearly, there are more than a few PMETs who would face financial ruin if they didn’t get a job, any job, and fast. For those in financial difficulties, credit counselling might be a good idea.
Credit counselling not only helps to keep you from going bankrupt, it can also help you teach you to negotiate for lower interest rates on your debt. For those PMETs whose financial liabilities are so great they can’t cope, this could be a lifesaving move.
When you get retrenched, the last thing you want to do is to go schmooze with 200 people at some networking event. Ironically, that’s probably the most useful thing you could do for your career at this point.
Connections can go a long way in Singapore, so never underestimate the value of getting out there and mingling, even if you didn’t just come from your shiny Raffles Place office, but took the bus from your HDB estate to get to the venue.
Retrenched PMETs could use some help networking, especially when they no longer have the benefit of attending industry functions through their former employers. Thankfully, help is on the way in the form of websites like Meetup and Eventbrite. Many of the networking and social events attract a PMET crowd, so it’s just a matter of forcing yourself to leave the house and plastering a smile on your face.
Have you ever been retrenched? Share how you coped in the comments!