SINGAPORE - More than 17,000 people found jobs through a government career placement scheme in the first half of 2018, a 40 per cent increase from the same period last year.
About two-thirds of the job seekers had been unemployed, half were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), and a third were aged 50 and above.
"Even though there's a certain amount of churn in the labour market, job opportunities are still available... Even those who are not quite so young are able to get back to work," said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Saturday (Sept 15), after a career preview fair for a nursing professional conversion programme at Nanyang Polytechnic.
This is one of the schemes under Workforce Singapore's Adapt and Grow initiative launched in 2016 to guide and match Singaporeans to opportunities for good careers.
One reason for the increase in job placements this year, said Mrs Teo, is the presence of more progressive employers, who do not expect "plug-and-play employees who are a 100 per cent job fit".
Instead, they are prepared to take on those who can be trained on the job, she said, adding that the Government helps such firms with training and even salary costs.
On the other side of the equation, said Mrs Teo, job seekers also need to keep an open mind to offers that they may not be as familiar with.
"We know it's not easy to make the transition into new job functions or new industries," she said, but a willingness to consider such options would make returning to the workforce easier.
Her comments come on the back of the labour market report on the first half of the year released on Thursday.
In the second quarter, layoffs increased to 3,030 from 2,320 in the first, but the second-quarter figure was lower than that of the same period a year ago.
The bulk of layoffs came from the services sector, with PMETs comprising 79 per cent of all retrenched residents.
Mrs Teo said it was not surprising that PMETs would take up a bigger proportion of retrenchments given that the number of PMET jobs has been growing faster than non-PMET ones.
Most of the retrenchments were due to business restructuring and reorganising, and not recessionary measures, she added.
"That tells us jobs are still available... However, it does require that some adjustments are made."
On Saturday, Mrs Teo also toured Nanyang Polytechnic's Centre for Connected Care, which trains its students to care for an ageing population, and met some mid-career students making the switch to healthcare.
Among them was former political science student Cindy Chin.
After three and a half years as a banking operations executive, the 28-year-old took a 20 per cent pay cut and enrolled in the polytechnic's professional conversion programme in April.
"Some people wondered if I was crazy, because they still have the mindset that nursing requires little education or is a dirty job," she said. "I struggled to convince them, and even myself for a while."
"But I have great interest in healthcare, helping people, and it helps that the programme charts out a career path for me. I can go from this diploma, to an advanced one, and eventually a degree," she added.