SINGAPORE - The first dedicated resource centre for job-seeking Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) was launched at Punggol 21 Community Club on Saturday (April 1).
The North East Community Development Council put up $200,000 to set up the centre and keep it running for the first year, in response to a higher number of PMETs approaching job placement centres in the district for employment assistance in 2016.
There are an estimated 11,000 out-of-work PMETs out of the 860,000 residents in the North East district, the CDC said.
Amenities at the 70 sq m centre, which provides career advisory services and job and training information, are free to use. They include five work spaces equipped with laptops, a printer, espresso machine and interview room for job seekers and potential employers to meet.
Two more centres in Aljunied and Pasir Ris will be launched by the end of the year, with another to come in Tampines by March 2018.
Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) will be organising regular career networking sessions and skills upgrading workshops at the centres that will be free to attend.
The first of these were held at the launch on Saturday, with jobseekers attending workshops and meeting with seven employers, including Knight Frank Property Asset Management and Smarte Carte Singapore, offering a total of 100 positions.
Layoffs last year rose to the highest level since the global financial crisis in 2009; PMETs were the hardest hit, forming 72 per cent of local workers made redundant in 2016, far higher than their share of 55 per cent of the resident workforce, according to figures by the Manpower Ministry.
Speaking at the launch, Education Minister (Schools) and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Ng Chee Meng said: "Setting up the resource centre at Punggol was an obvious choice for us. Being a fast growing new town with many young families also means there could be more PMETs that require assistance during this economic reality."
The centre could reach out to about 2,000 PMET job seekers residing in the North East in a year, he added.
Minister of State for Manpower and North East District Mayor Teo Ser Luck said that as the six job placement centres in the district cater mainly to rank-and-file workers, there was a need to for a more focused effort on PMETs, given their large share of the workforce.
If the centres create more efficiency in job placements, he will discuss with e2i, WSG and NTUC whether it can be a national effort, said Mr Teo.
Mr Azhar Ahmad, who has been job-hunting for a year after being let go from his previous position as an events consultant and manager, said that the resource centre would be useful as he lives nearby.
"I've been doing freelance work but I can't depend on that because I have a wife and three kids, and the events don't come every month. I need a full-time job, so I'm not choosy," said the 36-year-old sole breadwinner.