News of rocky economy is permeating every budgetary conversation these days. Younger workers need to pay more attention to this. Conclusive studies tell us that during periods of recession the probability of younger workers being hired falls (although this will rise for experienced workers).
This phenomenon can be explained by firms choosing to hire workers with greater work experience when labor markets are slack.
Moreover, young workers face a very different economy in the 21st century than their parents’ generation, so simply working hard and getting a good education is no longer enough.
Paper qualifications don’t cut it anymore. Singapore churns out diploma and degree holders on an industrial level. When it comes to basic qualifications, it is hard to tell the difference between one worker and another.
We have to work harder and harder to differentiate ourselves. All the rhetoric about “life-long learning” will need to become a reality. To compete, one needs to be a better speaker, a better influencer, a better analyst and to wield organisational skills.
All this is post-academic learning and sometimes, can only be built by living life and working the years. Many employers complain that new entrants don’t have the right mix of skills.
SkillsFuture and all its initiatives is useful. As is the variety of “online” or distant learning courses useful for the time starved executive. But our younger workers are learning these things too little and too late.
The obvious solution is for university, community college, and industry leaders to get together and design the coursework and the on-the-job experiences young workers need to be productive, learn, grow, and gain access to better and higher paying jobs.
But education alone will not solve sluggish job creation (of which we have been seeing declines) or personal wage stagnation.
Employees, managers and business owners will all benefit from hands-on mentoring programs at the workplace. There ought to be national initiatives for older and experienced workers (and even retirees) to return to the workplace to guide and oversee corporate growth.
At last year’s national Budget 2015, DPM Tharman directed that the country create programs to uplifting our SMEs, build a fair and inclusive society and
to sustain a fair and progressive system not just for today, but the next generation.
2016 will need ever meatier proposals for our next generation, especially amidst news of economic contraction and retrenchments.