- Is Singapore’s current job market able to support the growing number of potential young PMEs?
- What are some of the pressing issues and concerns expressed by young PMEs?
- How and where can young PMEs seek support to address their career concerns?
So I attended a wedding last weekend. Amidst getting the groom drunk and bouts of yam-sengs, I had the opportunity of catching up with long lost friends. “Wah brudder, you fat already lah!”, “Wah, drive BMW already ah”, “Wah sibeh chio leh your girlfriend!”. And as typical Singaporean conversations go, we’re led into the mandatory chats about how we’re doing in our careers.
I was intrigued when I learnt that one of my ex-classmate was doing an internship with a local boutique events agency. Apparently, this is her second internship after her graduation from a local university two years ago.
I wonder why she chose to take on an internship as opposed to full-time employment.
The endless chase
Granted – internship right after graduation is no big deal. But it seems to be getting harder and harder to come across a full-time opportunity that’s attractive in terms of benefits and also matches the candidate’s qualifications.
Chase. chase, chase chase. First, the degree, then the perfect first job, and then the chase for the job that will do more than feed our fridge, it needs to pay for a house, a car, and anything else life throws our way.
We’re such a paper qualification-driven society, it’s hard to find anyone who’s not a graduate these days. You could even say that our society is made of paper (it gets soggy with a bit of rain).
And then there’s (pause for effect) competition. Now our graduates even have to wrestle with applicants with working experience looking for a career change. Tougher competition comes from those returning from studying abroad (who are probably unable to find employment opportunities overseas due to the tightening job market).
As in the case of my ex-classmate, under-employment is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the situation whereby highly or overly-qualified individuals take on lower jobs is not specific to Singapore either – in the United Kingdom, many have left their home country in pursuit of proper “graduate jobs”.
From the employer’s perspective, the chase for qualified employees also seems to be endless: many are concerned over the difficulties of filling job vacancies, as a survey recently showed. Eight in 10 Singapore SMEs face issues related to manpower shortages, a trend that’s observed across a range of job openings not traditionally shunned by locals (research, R&D engineering, customer service, etc.).
The end of the tunnel
So how? I know you all don’t listen to National Day Rally, but give it a chance. The rally addressed the importance of producing graduates with skills which are useful and in demand to avoid situations of mass unemployment and mass under-employment as is the case in the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and even China. Yet this is only half the solution. The immediate relief lies in providing assistance to this group of under-employed individuals and finding a better job fit.
For me, I don’t care – I’m gainfully employed thanks to the JobsDB. But this may not fit all industries. there’s also e2i PME, with a set of services that help you match skills and jobs. If you want to put in a little more effort, here’s another link for Next U (a member of the Labour Movement in Singapore) which offers a wide range of trainings – from image and personality development to specific professional courses in logistics, finance, and service excellence.
But in all cases, keep those resumes handy – keep talking to people. Network, network, network.
At the rate our labour statistics are going, it could become an employee’s market very soon.