Help for jobless PMETs should be evaluated

That the Government has recognised that more targeted assistance is needed for jobless professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) is a useful start (More targeted help on the way for jobless PMETs; March 18).

However, there is also a need to profile these unemployed Singaporeans in order to evaluate - especially quantitatively - the success of job-matching or job-training programmes and, ultimately, to assess the effectiveness of the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) measures.

For a start, the MOM must detail and keep track of output numbers of its new measures, such as the number of jobless PMETs who receive allowances to go on training attachments, the number of employers or companies which hire these workers, and even the sustainability of these arrangements, in terms of whether the PMETs stay in their positions over a substantial period of time.

Progressively, however, outcome indicators must also feature alongside these output numbers. It is, for instance, not enough to just know the number of jobs available at job fairs or the number of jobs taken up by the unemployed.

Information about whether the fit is a good one - in terms of the expertise and experience of the employees, vis a vis job descriptions or expectations - will minimise problems related to underemployment and maximise work productivity.

Related to the challenge of job matching is that of career counselling, training or retraining.

Job fairs may be useful when they are specific to industries or companies, but career counselling may be needed to improve soft skills - such as interview or writing skills.

Given the higher rate of redundancy among PMETs, training or retraining will be needed for changes in the long term.

In this vein, the same critical questions must also be asked of the programmes: the number of participants, the number of actual placements, and the number who remain or advance in their companies over more years.

Transparent, quantified indicators can provide affirmation if there is progress made, as well as useful inputif improvements are needed.

Kwan Jin Yao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Help for jobless PMETs should be evaluated'. Print Edition | Subscribe