In his May Day message yesterday, PM Lee said that jobs must be a key focus for Singapore to stay relevant in the global economy.
He also passed the responsibility to create jobs to the new ministers. He appointed Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as chairman of Future Economy Council together with Iswaran, Chan Chun Sing, Ong Ye Kung and Lawrence Wong, and a number of younger ministers as members of the council.
The first strategy of creating new jobs entails bringing in new businesses and investments and upgrading existing companies. Without a business-friendly climate, there will be no new jobs, he said.
Being “business-friendly”, of course could also mean acceding to foreign companies’ requests to bring in foreign professionals from their home countries where their labor laws are much stricter.
He also said that local PMETs who have lost their jobs will be helped to find new ones but they should be open-minded and flexible.
And, not surprisingly, he continues to talk about the need for Singaporean workers to “upgrade” their skills and knowledge. He said that workers elsewhere are catching up and gave an example of how driven the Chinese workers in Chengdu are.
“Unless we are as hungry as them and as determined as them to upgrade ourselves, and willing to put in as great an effort, our cheese will be stolen,” he said.
Skilled Singaporeans being discriminated?
However, anecdotal evidence has shown that Singaporeans are already very skilled and are always hungry to learn. For example, our education system consistently tops global education rankings.
It doesn’t matter how “upgraded” Singaporeans are if they aren’t given a chance to be interviewed or employed.
Last week (26 Apr), transitioning.org, an NGO set up to cater to the emotional needs of the unemployed, published a letter detailing how a highly skilled Singaporean was being discriminated at a job interview.
The author wrote that he went through an interview process at a management consulting firm, which took more than 3 months. There were 5 rounds of interview and all the interviewers were foreigners, he noted.
The author aced all the tests thrown at him. He said, “Management consulting interviews are difficult and test your logical and analytical skills. In that aspect I aced the 8 case studies and brainteasers thrown at me during the rounds as highlighted by the final interviewer who had all my feedback forms.”
However, in the end, he was rejected. The reason given was due to “cultural fit”.
“I am just wondering is this ‘cultural fit’ a new euphemism for legalized discrimination? I supposed they thought that me being a Singaporean will not fit in with their highly diverse group of foreigners – I have checked LinkedIn and the majority of Singapore-based employees I can find on the website are not from Singapore too,” he added.
“In the end I am left feeling very numb and unsatisfied. Could it be that I was just used by the company to show MOM that there are suitable Singaporean employees, and in the end they will just hire another FT? I have heard rumors of such procedures conducted but did not expect them to be so blatantly true!”
“If there really was a cultural fit problem, shouldn’t it have been highlighted during the previous interview rounds, and shouldn’t I have been culled from the herd straight away? The entire process was really unprofessional too, with interviews rescheduled at the last minute and being postponed to more than a month later. In hindsight, these were all red flags I should have considered,” he lamented.