Home News SG Economy Few jobs available for retrenched senior banking staff

Few jobs available for retrenched senior banking staff

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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

It was earlier reported that Barclay is retrenching 7,000 of its staff worldwide. Staff in Singapore were also affected. Some of the jobs being cut include back-end support roles.

In Singapore, Barclay employs about 3,000 people for its back-office roles. It is the largest in Asia. However, it has recently given up two stories in the Marina Bay Financial Centre and closed its operations centres in Changi and Tampines.

A HR recruiter said, “Most of the new layoffs in Singapore have actually been IT and operations focused, with some roles being offshored to India.”

“Finance people were lucky this time round but I suspect there will be more cuts coming in the next few months and finance may be next on the list,” he added. “There is a constant reduction-in-workforce going on (in Barclay) and people are paranoid about getting a tap on the shoulder.”

According to HR companies, there have been an increase in enquiries from Barclay’s employees, especially those at VP to director level, who are worried about being the next to be laid off.

However, there are few jobs available for these senior people.

“There are few jobs for senior ops people in Singapore – RBS is closing down units, Standard Chartered has some vacancies but not senior ones,” a recruiter said.

Another said, “Only at the junior level do roles exist in operations; anything VP and above is hard to come by.”

Senior bank officer who used to earn $25K now earns $3K a month

Indeed, many of the senior people in the finance industry who were retrenched, couldn’t find similar jobs back in their industry (https://theindependent.sg.sg/finance-expat-lady-living-a-good-life-in-singapore).

Mr Desmond Tan was once the head of Asia sales in one of the largest European banks. After he was forced to quit, he couldn’t find any other jobs back in the finance industry. He was turned away from jobs by bank after bank.

Some even said he was “over-qualified”. Mr Tan used to earn more than S$25,000 a month but now has to settle for commissions of about S$3,000 as a property agent.

It seems that these days, once retrenched, highly trained Singaporean PMETs can only find work if they switch careers by picking up new skills like selling properties, insurance or driving a cab or Uber car.

So, those directors and VPs in Barclay may have to be mentally prepared to sell insurance or drive an Uber car as a last resort.

Minister Lim: We are helping the PMETs

Alternatively, they can also go for training, as Minister Lim Swee Say has promised to help the PMETs. He mentioned this in Parliament in Apr this year:

“We are also helping more PMETs to switch careers. A lifelong career with same company or even the same industry has become less likely for many people. Many mid-career PMETs may have to make career change due to redundancy or other personal reasons. That is the reason why we launched the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) in 2007…”

But for those who want to switch career, pay cut is to be expected. Minister Lim quoted an example, a Mr Chong Kim Sem, 49, who was not retrenched but wanted to switch from Electronics to Biologics. Minister Lim said:

“Why? Mr Chong looked at Biologics as an emerging sector with tremendous potential. There is a rising demand for medicines in Asian markets. There is good career progression pathway, whether in HQ Operations, Manufacturing or R&D, in this sector. He read in the media that EDB said that there is a healthy pipeline – new plants as well as plant expansion over the next five years. This sector will be growing in the next 5 years and there would be more jobs and more opportunities.”

“As a result, he took a pay cut willingly as he had no prior experience in the sector. He was supported under the PCP and he received PCP WSQ Higher Cert in Process technology. He is now working as a Senior QA specialist. With his maturity and adaptability, I am very sure that he will find Biologics a good career, one that will be good for him for next ten, 15 years and beyond.”

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