Job-matching website Jobseeker shut down after legal warning

JobTech co-founders Charlotte Lim and Ang Wee Tiong. Ms Lim said a job portal, which she declined to name, had served JobTech a notice to refrain from using data from its website.
JobTech co-founders Charlotte Lim and Ang Wee Tiong. Ms Lim said a job portal, which she declined to name, had served JobTech a notice to refrain from using data from its website.ST FILE PHOTO

JobTech, a local start-up which provides an online job-matching service for retrenched workers, has been forced to take down its Jobseeker website.

Co-founder Charlotte Lim told The Straits Times that a job portal had served JobTech a notice "to refrain from using data from its website".

She declined to name the portal but said the legal warning prompted JobTech to temporarily shut down its Jobseeker website to regroup and rethink its strategy. The move comes just one month after JobTech crossed its one-year anniversary.

The start-up - chaired by Mr Philip Yeo, who is synonymous with A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) - made headlines last year when it made an open offer to Facebook to help sift and label fake news on social media.

Last week, JobTech sent out an e-mail with the subject heading: "We didn't think this would happen..."

In the sobering note to some 5,000 subscribers - mostly professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) - it wrote: "Recently, we found out that not everyone shares our view of wanting to help retrenched PMETs get back to work. As a result, we have had to take down our Jobseeker website for the moment. We didn't think it would happen because we thought we were providing a valuable and important service."

Jobseeker provides PMETs with free job-matching services by trawling 10 major job portals here to ferret out genuine postings. PMETs are then directed to contact the portals if they are interested.

 

IMPORTANT SERVICE

The PMET group is highly vulnerable to job displacement. We now have almost 20,000 Singaporeans who are long-term unemployed.

MR PHILIP YEO, JobTech's chairman, on how the unidentified job portal had blocked access to data which could help PMETs find work.

When contacted, Mr Yeo said it is "regrettable" that the job portal had blocked access to data which could help PMETs get back to work. "The PMET group is highly vulnerable to job displacement. We now have almost 20,000 Singaporeans who are long-term unemployed," he said.

JobTech has since been adding the individual career pages of more than 500 global companies to its data source. This means analysing more than one million global job postings a day, from thousands of Singapore job postings before.

The firm - which has 20 data analytics clients for its artificial intelligence (AI) engine - is hoping to relaunch its Jobseeker website as early as next month. Its AI engine, licensed from A*Star, also powers the Jobseeker website.

Said former precision engineer Ernest Tan, 40, who is jobless: "With the relaunch of Jobseeker, I will get to search for exclusive jobs not listed on job portals but scattered across thousands of company websites."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Job-matching website shut down after legal warning'. Print Edition | Subscribe