More PMEs seeking help for employment issues

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SINGAPORE: Although the labour market remains tight, industry insiders are seeing more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) seeking help for employment issues.

One in two who approach the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) for career guidance and to attend job fairs are PMEs. Five years ago, the figure was considerably lower, with one in five workers being PMEs.

Also, two in five of the white-collar workers in the 5,000-strong e2i database are aged 35 and below.

e2i CEO Gilbert Tan, who spoke on labour trends at the Singapore Human Resources Institute’s (SHRI) Outlook 2015 conference on Wednesday (Jan 28), said these PMEs come from diverse backgrounds, from retrenched workers to staff looking to upgrade themselves.

The increase, he said, could be due to a changing workforce profile, which now consists of more PMEs. Beyond career guidance and job fairs, the institute also offers training, with one in three workers tapping all three services today being PMEs.

EVOLVING LABOUR MARKET

The Ministry of Manpower’s report on job vacancies released on Tuesday said PMET vacancies have risen substantially over the past year amid a tight labour market. The increase in openings was most drastic for associate professionals and technicians (26 per cent). Nearly half of the spike came from job openings for nurses, government associate professionals and management executives. There were also more vacancies for service and sales workers, managers and administrators, as well as professionals.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said PMEs might be resistant to trying new jobs. “For instance, they might have information technology training and be asked to try a job that requires an engineering background. Some may not feel so comfortable with these job openings,” he said, adding that NTUC has been lobbying for PMEs to learn a second skill so they can open themselves to job opportunities.

Also, employers are “sensitive” when it comes to hiring older PMEs. “Mature PMEs have years of experience and used to draw high salaries,” he said. “When they apply for lesser or smaller jobs, employers may feel bad that they’re hiring them at 25 per cent of their previous pay.”

At the SHRI conference, Mr Tan also spoke of the challenges of companies staying competitive in an evolving labour market. Tight foreign labour policies have aggravated manpower shortages and the latent workforce is not being fully utilised.

He suggested employers reach out to mature workers by offering them flexible or part-time work arrangements. He also called for employers to join the productivity push and turn to technology to ease their dependence on manpower.

Amid calls for greater productivity, the SHRI launched a survey to study the relationship between salary and productivity last September. Results of the survey, which involves about 200 Singapore-based companies, are likely to be shared by June.

Other presenters at the SHRI conference included Mr Tay, who spoke about industrial relations, OCBC economist Selena Ling, who commented on the global economic outlook, and the MOM’s divisional director of Manpower Planning and Policy, Adrian Chua, who discussed labour market developments.

news source & image credits: channlenewsasia.com

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