COVID-19 SPECIAL

Search for new job a long, challenging process for some

DPM Heng Swee Keat assured Parliament that the Government will protect every worker, though it cannot protect every job.
DPM Heng Swee Keat assured Parliament that the Government will protect every worker, though it cannot protect every job.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

When Ms Alvina Tan got a new job at a market research company in February, she braced herself for a few hectic months ahead.

But as the coronavirus outbreak worsened, necessitating the implementation of the circuit breaker last month, the 40-year-old was told she was not a good fit and found herself out of a job.

Now on the hunt, she is scouring websites like LinkedIn and JobStreet as well as the MyCareersFuture.sg portal, and has sent out at least 14 job applications. So far, she has heard back from just one employer. She did not get the job.

"Losing a job at this time makes me a bit worried because 40 to me feels a bit old to be changing jobs," she told The Straits Times.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat assured Parliament that the Government will protect every worker, though it cannot protect every job.

He said the central focus of the $33 billion Fortitude Budget is jobs, and the $2 billion SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will create close to 100,000 opportunities for local workers affected by the Covid-19 economic slowdown.

These include 40,000 jobs in both the private and public sectors, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training opportunities.

Those seeking jobs can search the #sgunitedjobs hashtag on the MyCareersFuture.sg portal. There are more than 2,200 available jobs spanning industries such as accounting, healthcare and engineering.

From Monday, recent and new graduates can also search for traineeship opportunities using the #sgunitedtraineeships hashtag.

Mr Ashleigh Choo, 27, who has been looking for a job since January and began actively sending out two to three applications a day last month to no avail, said he may use the portal.

He had left his job at an advertising agency as he was looking to move to a different industry, but the company he was in discussion with decided to curtail its hiring.

 
 
 

He said that while he is open to most opportunities, many jobs advertised online are temporary, such as those in kitchens or warehouses, and the pay offered has dropped in recent weeks.

For Ms Tan, who is not married, the idea of switching to a completely different career is daunting, but she said she would be willing to move to an unfamiliar sector if it allows her to use her skills.

She previously drew a salary of about $10,000 and expects to be able to survive for a few months without an income.

But with the mortgage on her flat and other loans to pay, the thought that she could still be jobless in the near future is worrying.

She said she was open to joining the new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships programme announced on Tuesday, but was a little embarrassed about being an older worker.

 
 

But she felt encouraged by the enhanced hiring incentive for employers who hire local workers aged 40 and above through eligible reskilling programmes. The incentive was expanded to cover local workers of all ages, with increased support for those aged 40 and above.

Ms Tan said that with that support, "I don't feel so bad to be losing my job at this point in my life".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2020, with the headline 'Search for new job a long, challenging process for some'. Print Edition | Subscribe