International Business & Economy Unemployed PMETs: The political art of selective quantification and info-sharing

Unemployed PMETs: The political art of selective quantification and info-sharing

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By: Law Kim Hwee

No one can fail but be greatly impressed when a minister is in a position to tell the whole world the quantifiable numbers of jobs that his government is creating. Or already created.

A newly-minted 4G acting minister, in ‘acting’ his part, tells us “where available jobs are or will be created in coming years:

  • 30,000 IT professionals
  • 3,000 more jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in precision engineering
  • 1,000 rail engineers;
  • At least 1,200 professionals for finance, mostly in IT and compliance
  • 4,000 early childhood educators”

And, for good measure, there are “some 70,000 vacancies in National Jobs Bank” currently.

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The screenshot below, taken on 25 Oct, 1925 hrs shows a grand total of 37,323 jobs. About half of what the minister claims. Integrity and accuracy are important. But, well, let’s not quibble over only a very small exaggeration, shall we?
1

Oh yes, someone helpfully points out that among the claimed “70,000 vacancies” there’s one that is specifically reserved for Thai nationals. How many more vacancies could there be that are ‘reserved’ for non-Singaporeans – not so carelessly revealed but confidentially hidden?
1Regardless, same day, different event, his 3G ministerial colleague also spills out another huge figure: “Singapore will need 30,000 more healthcare workers in five years“. WOW!
There are “ample good jobs for Singaporeans” indeed.

Isn’t it amazing that our ministers could pull numbers out of their hats – when and where they choose to do so?

Does that not mean that we have the systems in place to track numbers when and where we deem important or relevant enough?

Does this not beg the question, how many Singaporean PMETs who are unemployed and who remained unemployed for x months are there? But we have never once heard any minister, any minister at all every mention the quantified number of unemployed Singaporean PMETs. Never!

Does that mean that they are not keeping track of the number? MOM reported last Feb that “four in 10 vacancies, were for PMET jobs”, so is 40% not significant enough to track?

Obviously not.

Actually, there is a rather simple way about it without getting PMETs to register with MOM. Wouldn’t the sudden and prolonged CPF contributions of members with above, say, S$3000/month salary be a good indication of an unemployed Singaporean PMET? In fact, not only the number of unemployed PMETs but also for how long their CPF accounts have not been credited.

So, are the statistics a state secret? Or they have been hidden, obfuscated, not discussed for political exigencies?

Whatever the true reason(s), Peter Drucker has this to say that is relevant to the ministers’ action or lack thereof.
1I think and believe that Mr Goh Keng Swee would have done things quite differently.

But to all my fellow unemployed PMETs with mortgages to service, children to feed, school fees to pay – and increased Medishield Life premiums to be auto-deducted from what’s left of our CPF money – let’s not complain, alright? After all, we gave 69.9% approval for the job that the government has done.

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