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30 August 2012

Looking after our PMEs

30 August 2012

I met 38-year-old Remi Abdul Rahman recently. He has been looking for a job since May. Armed with a diploma in sports psychology, he had been working in the hotel and spa industry since 1996. When he left his last job as an Assistant Centre Manager, he was fairly confident that a new and better job would soon be available. The father of two did not expect that he would encounter so much difficulty in his job search. He then approached the Career Centre at the North West Community Development Council (CDC) in June for job assistance.

Remi was assessed by the Career Centre and referred to the PME Specialist Assistance Programme with Right Management – one of the two private sector providers (the other being HireRight) appointed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to run a one-year pilot programme. After meeting a Right Consultant, Remi was put through a career profiling tool to help him better understand his strengths and stress behaviours. He was coached interview techniques and resume writing skills, including how to cold call companies to expand his job search avenues. The specialised help aims to provide Remi with a competitive edge over others, and hopefully help him to kick-off his next career soon.

We want to help Singaporean PMEs like Remi. With easier access to education and the drive towards a knowledge-based economy, there are more PMEs in our workforce. Today, they make up 1 in 3 workers; this will grow further.

The PME Specialist Assistance Programme was launched to render specialised job assistance for this group and is expected to benefit up to 500 unemployed Singaporean PMEs. The programme, which I had first shared at the Committee of Supply (COS) 2012, was adapted from the experiences of countries such as Australia and the UK, countries which have found some success in leveraging on the expertise, network and resources of the private sector to provide specialist career and job placement services. This collaboration with the private sector is meant to complement WDA’s current employment assistance measures through the Career Centres at the CDCs. Through this scheme, we hope to widen employment opportunities for PMEs, especially for niche jobs and sectors.

During my visit to Right Management, I participated in a workshop tailored to increase the participants’ confidence levels and ability to market their skills and experience to prospective employers. Talking to the participants, I found some to be quietly confident, while others had a fear of redundancy and inadequacy. Many had gone through multiple job rejections, some had fallen out with their families. Morale was low when some signed up for the programme. At the workshop, they listened, they shared, and most importantly, relearned key skills.

Preparing for the role-play interview session with the workshop trainer and participants

Conducting the interview with three others during the role-play interview session

Interacting with PMEs at the workshop

The programme is in its early days, with 21 participants since it started in July 2012. I am encouraged though by the positive feedback shared by the participants. I believe that we have taken a step in the right direction, and we will make improvements as we move along.

Apart from the PME group, WDA continues to provide career assistance to the other segments of the workforce. Its Career Centres located at the CDCs and e2i have assisted about 11,200 clients in the second quarter of 2012, up from 9,800 in the first quarter of the year. Job placement rates for the Centres’ clients have also increased from 4,500 to 5,100.

We will work to expand our suite of employment facilitation services for our local workforce. Our vision is that for every Singaporean who needs a job, especially with the growing numbers of PMEs, we can do more for them and to help them find one.

We may have low numbers of unemployed, but we should still do what we can to help those who are.


Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin
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