Suntec job fair sees low turnout despite incentives offered by employers

ONE of the biggest career fairs to be held in a shopping mall attracted few job seekers yesterday, despite incentives offered by employers.

Only about 150 people were drawn to the fair at the new-look Suntec City Mall that had more than 1,000 jobs for the picking in the retail and food and beverage (F&B) sectors.

The jobs are for Singaporeans and permanent residents.

The two-day fair, which ends today, is organised by Suntec and supported by the labour movement's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) as a lead-up to the completion of Phase 1 of the mall's makeover. It is expected to be completed next month when more than 120 stores will open.

About 30 of these tenants, such as BreadTalk, Charles & Keith and Levi's, are taking part in the fair.

Managing director R. Dhinakaran of Jay Gee Melwani Group, whose fashion brands include Levi's and Aldo, is looking to fill more than 100 jobs.

But if he can fill 25 per cent of the vacancies, that would be "good enough for us", he said, noting the tight labour market.

He is also willing to give in to locals' reluctance to work on weekends, saying they will get at least one Saturday or Sunday off each week.

Another move to draw locals is its Golden Girl Scheme for women aged between 50 and 69. They are paid at least $1,000 a month for working 25 hours a week and these hours are flexible.

At Paradise Group, human resource manager Roy Chua said it is offering a flexi-work scheme that allows employees of its restaurant chain to work 41/2-hour shifts each day, six days a week for $1,000 a month.

He received 10 applications yesterday and two were hired full-time on the spot.

But the low turnout surprised him. "Maybe it's because Suntec is in the business district with mainly PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) and they would not apply for these jobs," he said.

But Mr Dhinakaran, who is also vice-president of the Singapore Retailers Association, believes it is an uphill task getting retail and F&B workers.

"These industries tend to look for the young people, but the young don't like to work in these jobs that much. They prefer white-collar jobs like banking as it is glamorous work."

Mr Gilbert Tan, chief executive of e2i, suspects that the low turnout could be due to "some people thinking it is an employees' market, so they pick and choose".

He added that e2i will work with employers to make the job fairs more attractive.