Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Manpower

Uphill climb for housewife after long lapse from work

Ms Low, 52, rejoined the workforce last year after an 11-year break. The first few jobs did not work out, so she sought help from WSG.
Ms Low, 52, rejoined the workforce last year after an 11-year break. The first few jobs did not work out, so she sought help from WSG.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

In 2005, Ms Heidi Low stopped work to raise her two daughters, aged three and five.

She was in an administration team at a car dealership.

Last year, with her children in secondary school, she wanted to go back to work full time.

But there was no suitable work.

"I tried working as an insurance adviser and a personal assistant," said the 52-year-old, who has A-level qualifications.

"One (job) lasted two weeks, the other two months," she said.

Her biggest difficulty was adjusting to a work environment after being away for 11 years. "The pace of work was fast," she said.

She sought help from Workforce Singapore (WSG).

It put her up as a candidate for the Work Trial programme at SDB Solutions & Services, specialists in data archival and storage, in November last year.

Yesterday, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say cited her situation when he announced improvements to the programme.

Now, it is a two-week trial during which WSG pays the candidate's salary, capped at $7.50 an hour.

From next month, the trial period will be extended to up to three months.

Ms Low became a data entry operator at the company, despite not having done such work before.

Under the programme, WSG covered her salary for two weeks, capped at $7.50 an hour, while she tried out data entry work.

Her typing was slow initially and could not meet the company's expected output.

"The normal standard is 50 to 100 pages a day. I could type only 20 to 40 pages," said Ms Low.

But heremployer gave her time to improve, and by the end of her two-week stint in December, she was offered a permanent post.

Ms Low now works five days a week at a government office in the Central Business District, where the company has an ongoing project.

"I can type 50 to 100 pages a day," she said with a smile.

Toh Yong Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Uphill climb for housewife after long lapse from work'. Print Edition | Subscribe