Career

The 5 Most Unwanted Jobs in Singapore

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Jeff Cuellar

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Before you start complaining about how your cushy desk job sucks because the office pantry ran out of sugar, stop, take a deep breath… and slap yourself.

Why?

Because you have no idea it means to have a bad job. I’m talking about jobs that require you to work long hours six days a week, deal with irate customers, and sweat – for low wages.

I’m talking about the kind of jobs that are so unwanted, Singaporeans would rather stay unemployed than take them up!

Maybe that’s why the people who usually work these jobs… aren’t from around here, if you know what I mean.

In any case, here are the 5 jobs that Singaporeans avoid like the plague (and for good reason!):

 

1. F&B Industry – Service Crew

What keeps every restaurant running like a well-oiled machine? The service crew! However, the oil started to wear off in 2012 when the government started cutting its dependency on foreigners. Now, many F&B outlets are running about as efficiently as the North East Line.

Many F&B outlets have been scrambling since then to hire Singaporeans to reinforce the empty service crew positions left behind by foreigners – with little success.

Here’s the lowdown on why the average Singaporean would rather pass on this job:

  • Pay: Service crew can earn an hourly wage of $8 to $9 dollars, or collect a full-time wage ranging from $1,300 to $2,000+ a month.
  • Hours: It’s not uncommon for service crew to work about 10+ hours a day, 6 days a week.
  • Job Scope: Taking orders, serving drinks/food, clearing/cleaning/setting tables, promoting food items, cashiering, and dealing with irate customers.
  • Requirements: None. However, many F&B employers want at least 1 year of experience.
  • Major Complaints: Service crew work long hours on weekends and holidays because of understaffing. Also, if you take an order wrong, some F&B owners will take it out of your pay!

 

2. Hospitality Industry – Room Attendant/Receptionist 

Singapore brings in millions of tourists every year who come to marvel at the Singapore Flyer, visit Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), gamble at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), and shop on Orchard Road.

Of course, these tourists are VERY demanding, and to make matters worse, the hospitality industry is also hurting from the government’s move to reduce reliance on foreign manpower – and Singaporeans aren’t filling these vacant jobs… for good reason.

Here’s the lowdown on why Singaporeans would rather pass on this job:

  • Pay: Room attendants earn about $1,200 a month while receptionists earn $1,800+.  
  • Hours: On paper, hospitality workers complete 9-hour shifts 5 days a week. But the reality is that employees regularly have to stay back because of understaffing for up to 14 hours.
  • Job Scope: Low-level staff will have a set job scope (room attendants), while higher level staff such as receptionists must perform their job scope in addition to helping out other departments.
  • Requirements: None. Although some hotels might require at least a secondary education and housekeeping certificates.
  • Major Complaints: Hospitality workers must take abuse from demanding customers with a smile (or else they’ll get fired), which is very stressful. Also, the long work hours tend to ruin work/life balance. 

 

3. Service Industry – Cleaner

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it right? Well, if you thought that “someone” referred to foreigners, you’d only be half right. They only make up less than half the manpower for some cleaning agencies.

In reality, the majority of cleaners in Singapore are low-wage Singaporeans. As you can imagine, the mere thought of even mopping a floor, let alone a bathroom floor is enough to scare away most Singaporean job seekers.

Here’s the lowdown on why Singaporeans would rather pass on this job:

  • Pay: Cleaners can earn anywhere from $700 for half-days, to $1,500+ for full-time work.
  • Hours: Cleaners can work full-time, half-days, or in day/night shifts 5-6 days a week.
  • Job Scope: Cleaning rooms and offices by sweeping, mopping, wiping, dusting, vacuuming, and taking out the trash.  
  • Requirements: None.
  • Major Complaints: It’s a lonely, thankless, dirty job, especially when it comes to cleaning restrooms – because what has been seen, cannot be unseen. Also, the pay is barely enough to survive on, even with the “entry-level” wage of $1,000 a month.

 

4. Construction Industry – Construction Worker

For Singaporeans, the idea of working in the sun for 10 to 12 hours a day on a construction site sounds about as appealing as a few lashings from the cane. It’s a job you might find interesting if you love manual labor, the outdoors, and can go without air conditioning for several hours.

As you can imagine, Singaporean construction workers are quite rare – but it’s not hard to understand why.

Here’s the lowdown on why Singaporeans would rather pass on this job:

  • Pay: Construction workers can earn anywhere from $450+ to $1500+ depending on experience.
  • Hours: Construction workers typically work 10 to 12 hours a day for 6 days a week.
  • Job Scope: Plenty of manual labor that includes preparing construction sites, loading construction materials, building/taking apart bracing and scaffolding, and operating construction machinery.
  • Requirements: None.
  • Major Complaints: Not getting paid on time. Not being paid enough. Working in a hazardous environment.

 

5. Beauty Industry – Nail Technician

Singapore has no shortage of nail salons, but it’s the nail salons that are suffering from a shortage of nail technicians. Many nail salon windows still have “help wanted” signs on them.

In fact, the beauty industry in Singapore faces the same problem that the F&B industry ran into – not finding enough Singaporeans to take up jobs left behind by foreigners.

Here’s the lowdown on why Singaporeans would rather pass on this job:

  • Pay: Nail technicians typically make about $1,200+ to $1,800+ a month, depending on experience. There can also be an incentive/commission component to the salary that can boost pay to $2,000+.
  • Hours: Nail technicians work 8 to 9 hour shifts up to 6 days a week.
  • Job Scope: Perform nail, hand, and foot treatments. Nail technicians also might need to massage the hands and feet of clients as well.
  • Requirements: None. However, many salons require at least 1 year of experience.
  • Major Complaints: Dealing with irate or disrespectful clients who blame you for the poor condition of their nails. The health risks, such as chemical exposure, infections, and muscle strain.

It’s easy to see why Singaporeans aren’t stampeding to vacancies in the jobs above. Besides, who wants to work in a job that pays you slave wages and works you to the bone? Then again, it’s easy to see who’s willing to fill these positions – and it’s not locals.

 

Do you think your job deserves to be on this list? Tell us what you think on Facebook! And to find even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

  • james

    can you share this with MOM?