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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Unemployed PMET Achieves

In Singapore, PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) form 55 percent of the workforce, but 72 per cent of the local workers who lost their jobs in 2016. 

PMETs also find it harder to re-enter the workforce. Only 44 percent of those who lost their jobs managed to get a new job within the year, compared to 48 percent for the rest. That means only less than one in two managed to get a new job within one year.

Officially, the unemployment statistics for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents is 2.1 percent in 2016. I suspect that the figures for Citizens alone will be much higher.

Long ago, a person without a job is simply called 'jobless', then they change it to calling him 'unemployed', as 'employed' is two positive syllables in a three syllable word. It sounds better, more positive. Then after some time, they realised that they can get away with reframing you as someone 'in-between jobs' - like you have just finished a job and as if the next one is just lurking around the corner. And it helps to give hope that the next job may happen as quickly as next month or the next day. Remember hope is more powerful than fear. Then after some time, they say that since you are 'in-between jobs' so frequently, let us label you as a 'freelance' - knowing that a freelance can be virtually unemployed or well be a billionaire forex trader. So there you go, everyone saves face and the government manages to reduce the unemployment figures instantly, without spending a dime.

So, if you include those who are not holding a stable job and are categorised as 'freelance', then the figures would be much higher. Politicians love hiding inconvenient figures and exaggerating convenient ones. They figured that out long ago.

I cannot find statistics for unemployed PMETs above 40 years old, but I think the statistics will be horrendous. It is safe to assume that every reader here knows of at least one middle-aged PMET that has been out of job for more than six months.

Sadly, age discrimination is rife all over the world and particularly in Singapore. The Singapore Government allows foreigners into the country rather freely suppressing wages and intensifying competition. I am all for competition, but there must be a limit to things for long term stability and sustainability. The current state of play in Singapore is that employers hire mostly the cheap, young and willing, because they get away with age discrimination, then fire them once they hit 40 years old. This is not sustainable because no one, even the arguably hungrier foreigners will remain cheap, young and willing long term. They too will grow old, start families and spend time raising families (therefore turning 'less willing').

I believe this is a common story in most developed countries. 

If you are an employer or hiring manager, do give the older workers a chance. Judge them based on their merits and not your preconception. It is not only one person you are affecting, but entire families that rely on your decision. Older workers are usually more loyal and patient, and most of all more experienced. You can't accelerate experience. It takes 20 years to have 20 years of experience.

It is hard if you are among those long term unemployed. It destroys self-esteem and confidence, while you see your financial burdens pile up. However, never give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is a video, an online commercial, illustrating the plight of one such unemployed PMET:


If you are among those struggling,...

1. Avoid going down the Downward Spiral of Depression
If you have lost your job and have been unable to find a new one and everything else seems to be falling apart - finding yourself insolvent, your relationship and health in a mess, your house in a mess, the people around you looking down on you, picking on you...etc, and you feel helpless, then you are probably already sucked into the spiral.

Remember you have problems to solve, but the problems are not you per se. Your thoughts are not you and your mind is not you, so do not allow them to control you. You have a soul, a peaceful loving soul.

Seek professional help immediately.

2. Avoid Depression
If you are not in depression, then avoid slipping into it inadvertently. Get out of the house, exercise, meditate, help others, volunteer, and/or keep a pet. Stay useful. By opening our hearts we avoid depression. By helping others, we help ourselves. Volunteer in charities.

To learn more about meditation and staying positive, click here.

3. Rearrange Payments
If you are running into a financial crisis, re-negotiate your bank mortgages and bill repayments. That will buy you more time.

4. Keep the Happy List
Avoid negative people. You know who they are. If you find yourself spending time regularly with the same people complaining about your ex-bosses, ass-holes, foreign competition or the government, then it is time to re-examine the list of people you hang out with. Keep a list. Harbour around positive thinking people. You will start to see your life change mysteriously.

5. Network and Mingle
Network and mingle, but keep your dignity. Do not give the impression that you are desperately rushing and clinging on to the first piece of flotsam to keep your heads above water. Trust that things will get better, and they always do if you are positive. It is hard, but it can be done if you are resilient and discipline.

6. Retrain
Retrain, whether on-the-job or through formal training courses. There are also government subsidies and schemes available, look out for them.

7. Seek Help
Don't be afraid to seek help. Ask and you will be given.


The global economy is going through yet another transition. Technologies are persistently disrupting all industries and the future of work is going to be very different. Many jobs will rapidly become obsolete and finally disappear. Evidently, if we are to be honest about it, there is already a growing number of jobs that are useless, and are affectionately referred to as 'bullshit' jobs. Those holding these 'bullshit' jobs will be among the first to admit to the harsh reality. It is thus time to rethink the meaning of work. For more about this rethink, click here.

Also, read how technologies are disrupting us and the security issues that we will witness more of... click here.

FOR SINGAPOREAN READERS: The Singapore Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Career Support Programme (CSP) provides for Singapore citizens, training allowances of up to $4,000 monthly for those attending training attachments. It also offers a wage subsidies to employers willing to hire PMETs aged 40 and above who have been unemployed for over a year.

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