More older residents being helped in job search

Jobseekers at the Adapt and Grow Virtual Career Fair in Jurong, on Sept 9, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Older residents make up a growing proportion of job seekers being helped into new jobs by government- and labour movement-supported career centres, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told the House.

Job seekers aged 50 and above made up about four in 10 of the over 11,000 job seekers placed by career centres run by Workforce Singapore and the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) in the first nine months of last year, he said. This is an increase from this age group making up about three in 10 of job seekers placed 10 years ago.

At the same time, the unemployment rate for residents aged 50 and above rose from 2.1 per cent in September 2014 to 2.3 per cent in September last year, said Mr Lim, in response to questions from MPs.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) said he has seen more residents seeking job help, and those above 40 find it especially hard to find a new job should they be retrenched. "Even if they find a job, usually the pay is much lower than where they were (getting) previously," he said, adding that some residents had complained about being hired by bosses who take advantage of government schemes, only to fire them three months later.

Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera also asked how successful government-supported job fairs have been.

Mr Lim said the number of job placements each year through career centres and other programmes fluctuates depending on the number of job seekers, but has averaged over 16,000 annually from 2007 to last September. For the past three years, the number of placements was 17,500 in 2014, 16,600 in 2015 and 14,900 for the first nine months of last year. He said: "We don't turn away job seekers, so (if) job seekers need help, they have to come to us, and then we respond accordingly."

Mr Lim added that there were more than 90 job fairs last year, which typically see about 400 jobs on offer and "hundreds and thousands" of job seekers. The ministry does not track all fair visitors, he said, as some could be researching available opportunities while employed.

Special attention is being paid to people who are long-term unemployed, or out of work for over six months. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is working with other agencies to look at strengthening the Adapt and Grow package of career help this year, he added.

"MOM will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to extend support to all local job seekers as we go through this period of economic transition," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline More older residents being helped in job search. Subscribe