More small scale, targeted job fairs to help unemployed PMETs get back to work

Job seekers at the hotel career fair held on September 23, 2016. The hotel sector, which employs 35,000 people, has about 2,100 vacancies, of which 40 per cent are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).
Job seekers at the hotel career fair held on September 23, 2016. The hotel sector, which employs 35,000 people, has about 2,100 vacancies, of which 40 per cent are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Unemployed professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) will get more targeted help in finding jobs through smaller job fairs.

The change in focus aims to help unemployed PMETs get back to work sooner, and keep the long-term unemployment rate in check, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Friday (March 17).

To help PMETs who have been out of job for six months or longer, "organising a job fair with 10,000 jobs won't solve the problem", Mr Lim told reporters at a job fair.

Instead, these workers need personalised guidance from career coaches and employers who are willing to hire and train them even if they do not have experience in their sector.

"Don't keep looking for plug-and-play kind of workers," said Mr Lim to employers. "Don't keep looking for workers who can fit into the jobs 100 per cent."

Mr Lim's comments come two days after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released a bleak report on the labour market on Wednesday which showed that PMETs were hardest hit by the tepid jobs market.

They made up 72 per cent of the local workers who were made redundant last year. This is far higher than their share of 55 per cent of the resident workforce.

They are also finding it harder to get back to work. While about 48 per cent of workers who were made redundant last year managed to find new jobs, the rate of re-entry for PMETs was 44 per cent.

To help PMETs get back to work, the MOM announced a slew of measures earlier this month to help them make career switches and giving more incentives to employers to hire them.

The measures include training allowances of up to $4,000 a month for workers who go on training attachments, and offering employers who hire PMETs aged 40 and above who have been unemployed for more than a year higher wage subsidies under the Career Support Programme (CSP) for 18 months, up from 12 months.

To make it easier for smaller firms to join the programme, the minimum salary of eligible workers will be lowered from $4,000 to $3,600 per month for them.

On Friday, Workforce Singapore gathered more than 20 employers who are prepared to hire unemployed PMETs in a one-day, small scale job fair that offered about 260 jobs. All the jobs pay at least $3,600 a month.

Mr Lim also noted that while the local unemployment rate and long-term unemployment rate - the proportion of residents who could not find a job for 25 weeks or more - has risen to 3 and 0.8 per cent respectively, they are "still considered relatively on the lower side, by international standards".

While the numbers may be low, he added the Government is stepping up efforts such as organising targeted job fairs to help unemployed workers get back to work, especially those out of work for 25 weeks or more.

"The longer they stay unemployed, the harder (it is) for them to come back (to work)," he said.