Parliament: Older residents make up growing share of those placed in jobs

Job seekers at a hotel career fair held in September 2016.
Job seekers at a hotel career fair held in September 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Older residents make up a growing proportion of jobseekers being helped into new jobs by government- and labour movement-supported career centres, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Monday (Jan 9).

Jobseekers aged 50 and above made up about four in 10 of the over 11,000 jobseekers placed by career centres run by statutory board Workforce Singapore and the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) in the first nine months of last year (2016), he told the House. This is an increase from this age group making up about three in 10 of jobseekers placed 10 years ago.

The share of professionals, managers, executives and technicians being placed has also increased over the same period, from one in 10 in 2007 to one in three in the first nine months of last year, he said.

At the same time, the unemployment rate for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged 50 and above rose from 2.1 per cent in September 2014 to 2.3 per cent in September last year, said Mr Lim, in response to questions from MPs about the job situation.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) said he has seen more residents seeking job help, and those above the age of 40 find it especially hard to find a new job should they be retrenched.

"Even if they find a job, usually the pay is actually much lower than where they were previously," said Dr Lim, adding that some residents had complained about being hired by employers who take advantage of government schemes only to fire them three months later.

Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera also asked how successful Government-supported job fairs have been over the past decade.

Mr Lim said the number of job placements each year through career centres and other programmes fluctuates depending on the number of job seekers, but has averaged over 16,000 annually from 2007 to September last year.

For the past three years, the number of placements were 17,500 in 2014, 16,600 in 2015 and 14,900 for the first nine months of last year.

"Basically we don't turn away jobseekers, so (if) jobseekers need help, they have to come to us and then we respond accordingly," he said.

Help is offered to jobseekers individually through coaching; or in groups, for example through bringing a group of employers to meet a group of workers part of a retrenchment exercise; or at a mass level, for example through job fairs which typically see about 400 jobs on offer and "hundreds and thousands" of jobseekers, he said.

The ministry does not track all visitors to job fairs as they could be there for various reasons - some job fairs are organised to raise awareness about jobs in the community, and attendees may not be actively searching for jobs, he said. They could also be employed but researching the available opportunities.

Special attention is being paid to people who are long-term unemployed, which refers to being unemployed for over six months. The Manpower Ministry (MOM) is also working with other ministries to look at how to further strengthen the Adapt and Grow package of career help in the coming year, said Mr Lim.

"MOM will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to extend support to all local jobseekers as we go through this period of economic transition," he said.