Don't overlook existing 'third source' of talent, Minister Josephine Teo urges companies

Minister Josephine Teo encouraged more companies to consider hiring local experienced mid-career PMETs.
Minister Josephine Teo encouraged more companies to consider hiring local experienced mid-career PMETs.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Companies tend to overlook one pool of workers in Singapore when they search for people to hire: local experienced mid-career professionals, managers, engineers and technicians (PMETs).

Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Sept 20) called this group an increasingly important "third source" of talent, and encouraged more companies to consider hiring them.

Hiring managers focus more on two traditional sources of workers: the Singaporean core entering the workforce, and the foreign workforce complementing this local core, she said.

These PMETs are now on the Government's radar and it is helping businesses hire more of them, Mrs Teo told about 500 people attending the Singapore Human Capital Summit.

The two-day conference, which ends on Thursday, was organised by the Ministry of Manpower and the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

PMETs are the group hit hardest by technological and business disruptions, making up about 70 per cent of those laid off. This proportion has risen over the years.

Yet,more new jobs created today are PMET positions, Mrs Teo noted in her speech.

Companies, however, do not normally turn to this poolas they prefer to hire "plug and play" employees - new recruits who can hit the ground running and immediately begin their new roles.

The approach "was possible when the nature of jobs did not change dramatically in a short time". But not in today's world where many new job openings are different from what existed before, she added.

If hiring managers insist on only "plug and play" recruits, then "they will only ever poach from their competitors by bidding upwards" and the talent pool will not expand, she said.

"At the same time, experienced mid-career local PMETs remain unemployed or underemployed. That is a loss to both businesses and society," she added.

However, some industries and businesses have begun to take notice.

For instance, the Singapore Logistics Association has structured training for local PMETs switching into the industry, and pairs them with mentors to guide them through the process of career conversion.

On its part, the Government is funding part of the wages and training fees of mid-career switchers, through the Adapt and Grow series of schemes.

It also runs professional conversion programmes for mid-career hires.

In the first half of this year, more than 1,500 people have gone through these programmes, more than double the 600 people in the first half of last year, said Mrs Teo.

The Government is also focusing on the financial, healthcare, infocomm technology, professional services and wholesale trade sectors, which have the potential to create quality jobs for PMETs.