SINGAPORE -The Government is taking the job hunt further online, as it holds its first virtual career fair that targets mostly white-collar job-seekers.
The Adapt and Grow Virtual Career Fair, which started last week, hit the middle of its stride as sobering figures on the labour market were released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Thursday (Sept 15).
The figures show rising unemployment and layoffs in the first half of the year reaching a seven-year-high.
Jobseekers also now outnumber job vacancies for the first time since 2012.
The two-week virtual fair by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) is meant to help jobseekers expand their network and connect with potential employers online.
Fifty-one employers from sectors such as info-communications and technology, aerospace, and biomedical sciences are offering up to 500 vacancies through the fair.
The median salary for these job offers is $4,500 a month.
Close to 400 web chats have been lined up for job-seekers with either potential employers or career coaches.
While the virtual fair runs from Sept 7 to 21, a physical fair was held on Friday (Sept 16) afternoon at the Devan Nair Institute for those who wanted to meet employers in person.
Besides speaking with more than 25 employers, those attending could also attend motivational workshops on how to prepare for interviews and present speeches.
Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, the event's guest of honour, said the virtual fair was a cheaper and faster way to match jobseekers, especially professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), with vacancies.
Since the virtual fair started, he said, about 2,000 people have signed up and 300 of them have submitted 1,000 applications through the platform.
The fair is the latest in a series of measures that the MOM has been rolling out to combat unemployment, Mr Lim said.
It is a "cheaper, faster, and better" version of the physical career fairs that are traditionally held for rank-and-file workers, and is intended to reduce job mismatch, he added.
In the past 10 days, the Government has also launched two Industry Transformation Plans for the food and beverage and retail industries - part of the services sector which formed the bulk of layoffs in the last quarter.
Mr Lim acknowledged Singaporeans were concerned about the gloomy picture painted by Thursday's figures, and said his ministry is preparing for the worst. "As the industry transforms faster, the pace of retrenchment may actually pick up," he said.
But he stressed that Singapore must not stop its restructuring efforts, or it will continue to be heavily reliant on foreign manpower and unable to create the kinds of quality careers Singaporeans want.
As for those whose jobs are cut along the way, he urged: "Be prepared to adapt."
Workers need to do their part too, he said. "We are supporting them with everything possible, not just with jobs and careers but even with wage subsidies and training support.
"Instead of worrying that retrenchments and unemployment get worse, let's be proactive and take action. The more proactive we are, the less likely unemployment will go up."
Web applications consultant Yeo Ying Yong, 33, who was at the physical fair to meet employers, said the virtual portal was useful to find out more about the jobs he was interested in. He has applied to six organisations through the fair.
He hoped, however, that more resources would be made available, such as mock technical tests that web developers like himself must take to get hired.