SINGAPORE - More than 68,000 women have received help from Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the National Trade Union Congress e2i since 2019 to return to work, accounting for almost one in every two job placements by WSG.
The momentum got a lift today with the launch of “herCareer”, a WSG initiative that brings programmes and information for job-seeking women under a new website.
About 260,000 women aged 25 to 64 are outside the labour force, according to the manpower ministry.
At a WSG job fair in Bedok on Thursday (9 June), Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said: “Some (women) actually may, by choice, want to stay at home to take care of family members, but we think a certain proportion may want to come back (to work) when they feel ready.
“We hope that in the next 10 to 20 years we will be able to see more women coming back; but we should also at the same time recognise that, at the end of the day, we have to respect women’s choices.”
Asked about a target on getting women back to work, she said: “I think it is more important to focus on supporting more women who are willing to come back to work.”
The number of women working has been rising in Singapore, reaching 61.2 per cent in 2020. For women who remain home, 15 per cent point to domestic duties as the main reason.
In a statement on Thursday, WSG said the herCareer initiative is in line with the white paper on Singapore women’s development, which “called for a whole-of-society effort” to advance their development.
herCareer also “showcases the suite of support across Government agencies, community and grassroot organisations available.”
Support includes job matching trials, career conversion training and placement, as well as job search guidance and job attachments.
Ms Zuria Yusope, 37, said at the job fair that women-specific programmes are helpful for women who might prefer to interact one-to-one and among women.
She quit her job as an assistant general manager of a sports broadcasting consultancy in 2019 to care for her mother. To rejoin the workforce three years later, she took up the “Back to Work Women” programme run by Yayasan Mendaki in March.
Last month, she started as a programme manager in the social service sector.
Ms Jacqueline Tok, 47, who was also at the fair, said she left her job in 2018 when her company restructured and decided to extend her hiatus to prepare her son for his PSLE exams.
Despite having been a senior executive in international media companies, when she wanted to work again in late 2019, she could not get an interview, despite having sent over 100 applications.
She became a WSG Career Ambassador in 2020 and a WSG senior career coach six months later.
She said having dedicated programmes is better since “men and women are very different”, adding that less “ego” and recognition of the many nuanced roles played by women make these programmes more targeted.
What's available under herCareer:
It offers career advice, training services and names of organisations offering support services for women.
2. Career Trial
Programme offering trial and part-time job opportunities for women who need flexible work arrangements.
3. Career Conversion Programmes
About 100 programmes over 30 sectors to train and place women in better jobs and new sectors.
4. Career GRIT
Self-assessment tool to guide jobseekers to relevant events and activities based on the stage of their job search.
5. SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme
Four-to-six months' job attachment for jobseekers aged 40 and above, with the opportunity to be taken into full-time employment at the end of the attachment.