By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
During the Parliament session on Monday (10 Oct), 12 MPs raised concerns about the rising resident unemployment and retrenchments in the wake of a weak labour market in Singapore, ST reported. Resident unemployment rate has now reached 3 per cent in June, the highest in the past five years.
According to a report from DBS Group Research, two-thirds of Singapore’s economy is already in technical recession. DBS noted that services sector accounts for slightly more than two-thirds of GDP and employment. “So literally, two-thirds of the economy is already in a technical recession given the services’ slump,” it noted. It also said that the financial services sector, which is the main engine of growth, is still struggling with protracted decline in bank loans.
And what is the Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say’s solution to help the increasing number of Singaporeans becoming unemployed? He told Parliament that he will transform the present National Jobs Bank into a “one-stop and non-stop online marketplace” that will help streamline the job hunt and career planning for Singaporean job seekers.
“We will transform the National Jobs Bank into a one-stop and non-stop online marketplace. Job seekers will be able to explore new career opportunities and conduct job searches anytime, anywhere without having to wait for the next job fair,” he said.
He said this new portal would target job seekers across age groups – whether fresh graduates searching for their first jobs, mid-career workers seeking a switch, or mature workers looking to stay active.
It would also help to streamline career planning through the Skills Framework, a new model that pinpoints the skills workers need to move up the career ladder and get the jobs they want in various industries.
However, he did not say when this new “one-stop and non-stop online marketplace” would be launched.
Singapore still needs “foreign talents”
Minister Lim also took the opportunity to highlight about Singapore’s continued slowdown in the growth of the local labour force. So, it is important to balance the growth of foreign manpower. Taking in too many foreigners would make Singapore overly reliant on them, he added, but reducing this to zero would also cause growth to stagnate.
“We are increasingly more selective in terms of qualifications and experience of the individual foreigners,” he said. Nevertheless, figures showed that the number of foreign manpower is still increasing in Singapore annually.
“More importantly, to ensure that our people are treated fairly at all levels in all industries we have included the adoption of fair and progressive HR practices as part of our work pass criteria,” he tried to assure Singaporeans.
“Jobs Bank is USELESS!”
However, even before Minister Lim transforms the Jobs Bank into yet another online job portal – “one-stop and non-stop online marketplace”, many Singaporeans who have used the Jobs Bank platform have already been condemning it.
One, who has been out of job, wrote on his blog in Apr this year, “WDA JobsBank is USELESS! I was foolish to believe I can find a job through this!”
“Applied jobs using this since September (2015), up till now now even a single call! What a waste of time!” he added.
On HWZ, there are more condemnations from forumers (‘Who found job through WDA Jobsbank?‘). One HWZ reader, Savantrainmaker, revealed a disturbing story. He recalled seeing a posting advertising for “Head of Asia-Pacific Ops” for an MNC in his industry on Jobs Bank. This position would report to a Global Head in Switzerland, which means it is likely to be a Swiss MNC.
He then alerted his friend who is out of job, about the job opening, “Just nice. I knew an industry veteran who’s doing a similar role and more than capable of doing this role. He’s Singaporean who lost out in the political fight at his firm – another global MNC. So I told him to give it a shot, which he did.”
“Two weeks ago, I met up with this bloke who was still unemployed and stressed out because he has two kids – one in primary school and the other in pre-school – and asked if he did nab the job at this MNC, which I knew the name since it’s in my industry,” he continued. “To my surprise, he feedback that he was not even called up for interview.”
But because the reader is in the industry, he then made some enquiries as to who got the job. “I was curious and did my informal checks with industry-friends in that firm, which has its AP-HQ at MBFC,” he said (MBFC is situated in Marina Bay near Shenton Way).
“It was then that I found out that the role was just filled up by an European recently. So, this single episode made me really wonder if this Jobs Bank thingy is really serving its purpose or just a rubber-stamp for MNC firms to bring in more FTs, when there are already many qualified Singaporeans who could fill the role,” the reader lamented.
“WDA should publish their statistics of how many qualified Singaporeans were interviewed and not selected before the MNC firms decide to pick a FT to fill the role.”
The reader is not alone in wanting WDA to be more transparent about the performance of its Jobs Bank. Even one PAP MP is asking the same question.
Last year, West Coast GRC MP and NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay commented on the Jobs Bank in a media interview, “Now the question is whether just by having that advertising requirement is sufficient to nudge employers to take the bold step to hire more Singaporean PMEs because it’s just a mere advertising requirement; there’s no requirement for employers to share placement figures.”
“We do not have data on rates of placement for some of these jobs advertised in the jobs bank,” he added.
So, would Minister’s Lim one-stop non-stop online job portal end up as another disappointment?