While the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) labour report showed that retrenchments have fallen from 3,230 in the first quarter of 2019 to 2,320 in the second quarter of the year, the number of unemployed Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) has increased from 1,440 to 1,680 in the same period.
Close to half of the retrenched workers have a degree while 70 per cent of those who were retrenched were over the age of 40. Despite the skills and qualifications PMETs have attained, the proportion of PMETs among all retrenched workers has continued to climb over the last decade.
The rate of workforce re-entry for PMETs after being retrenched for six months is 57.8 per cent in this last quarter – this is lower than the 59.9 per cent average rate of re-entry into the workforce for other retrenched workers.
A large proportion of PMETs remained unemployed more than six months after they lost their jobs. 39-year-old banker Jeremy Ho (not his real name) told Yahoo that he was retrenched in June 2019 but remains jobless 20 applications and three job interviews later.
41-year-old James Ching, who served as a regional marketing director in the education industry and has 17 years of marketing experience in the public sector and with multinational companies, has remained jobless for eight months, since he resigned last December.
Mr Ching told Yahoo: “I thought that one (interview) went well, but they thought I wouldn’t be happy because the role was too junior.”
Calling PMETs the “newly vulnerable,” DBS Senior Economist Irvin Seah told the publication: “PMETs continue to form a much larger share of retrenched workers compared to their proportion in the workforce.
“Most of them are white-collar, skilled workers who command a higher salary and have many financial and family commitments. They are looking for jobs that can support (their lifestyle), but (these) are not readily available anymore.”
As the number of unemployed PMETs grows, veteran diplomat Tommy Koh cautioned t the Government that they would not want more Singaporean workers “to join the ranks of the angry voters.”
Calling on the 4G leaders to take care of displaced workers and step in to support those who will be retrenched as the economy restructures, Dr Koh advised last week: “We should not abandon the displaced workers because we don’t want more and more Singaporeans to become Grab drivers or, worse, to join the ranks of the angry voters.
“Remember this: It was the angry voters who helped to elect President (Donald) Trump in the United States. It was the angry voters in the United Kingdom who voted to leave the European Union.”