SGFuture dialogue: Plenty of jobs, but few takers - why?

Office workers during lunch hour in the Central Business District at Raffles Place, on Feb 23, 2016.
Office workers during lunch hour in the Central Business District at Raffles Place, on Feb 23, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Participants at Manpower Ministry dialogue play game to learn about job mismatch

Instead of a straightforward dialogue, the Manpower Ministry's SGFuture public engagement session yesterday was spiced up with role-playing.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say led 65 members of the public in simulating the job market in Singapore. The game was meant to help participants, who played the roles of job-seekers and employers looking for workers, understand how job mismatch in the marketplace occurs.

The key frustration that emerged was lack of information on what employees were looking for and what employers wanted - an issue that Mr Lim said the Government will do its bit to improve through the national Jobs Bank, a job portal run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency.

 

"When workers are looking for jobs, they have no idea where the jobs are. Then when companies are looking for workers, they have no idea where the workers are," he said.

"I would say, this in a way, is one area where we can do a lot more to strengthen the market information so that job-seekers and the employers looking for workers can create a platform. So they can know the source of supply, the source of demand much better.

LACK OF INFORMATION

When workers are looking for jobs, they have no idea where the jobs are. Then when companies are looking for workers, they have no idea where the workers are.

MANPOWER MINISTER LIM SWEE SAY

"I think the national Jobs Bank can provide the basic platform for us to nurture further into a platform whereby job-seekers, as well as employers looking for workers, can come together, become a marketplace, bringing the supply of jobs and supply of workers together."

In a Ministry of Manpower report last month, waiters and security guards topped the charts as the professions with the most vacancies - with more than 1,400 positions for each not filled for at least six months. Meanwhile, four in 10 job vacancies are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians, chief among them teaching professionals and management executives.

Yesterday's game aimed to illustrate the rift between the kinds of jobs workers want and the kinds that employers struggle to fill.

It started off with those playing job-seekers given scorecards on which their abilities - health and skills, for example - were rated.

They had to search for "employers", who also had scorecards showing what level of abilities they required for each job. If the scorecards matched, the job-seeker could accept the job. In the next round, job-seekers' cards also included expectations, such as flexible working hours, that the employer had to meet.

Student Kristi Lim, 18, swiftly secured a job as a technician, but lost it in the second round. "I was quite kiasu and looked for the first job I could find," she said. "But I had to leave because, according to my card, I wanted more pay."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 06, 2016, with the headline 'Plenty of jobs, but few takers - why?'. Print Edition | Subscribe