Prof Tommy Koh's article on SG PMETS: My personal encounter on state of Qualified PMETS in Singapore

30 October 2019
Perspective
Need a jobThis email was sent to the SDP recently. The author, while permitting us to publish it, prefers to remain anonymous. Except for a few obvious typos, we herewith publish it as-is:

Dear Sir,

The Jobless PMET crisis is worse than I myself imagined whereby Employers, Recruitment Agencies, the government agencies themselves seemed like not working together to employ SG PMETS from 40+ age group. Therefore, I am willing to allow permission to publish my letter to the Honourable PM now as I have given up hope on landing a PMET job; even after I have written to the PM via private Facebook messenger discreetly almost 2 months ago, totally 6+ months now. By Christmas, I will become another Grab Driver, or cafe waitress or telemarketer or security guard to alleviate cash flow. 

I escalated my case to our PM after 5 months of aggressive job search with absolute radio silence from recruitment agencies. My WSG coach went on holiday for 2 weeks and his backup was rudely asking me to go back and amend my CV for the umpteenth time. To date, there's no job offer in near sight, even though 1 Indian Hiring Manager faulted me for saying I would like to take a step back to a different stress level of work nature.

It seems to me that the job market stakeholders are truly lip service and extremely unfavourable to older PMETS in mid-40s considered old only in Singapore. 

I still wish to be "Anonymous".

 Referring to Prof Koh's article on us being a nation of Grab Drivers; I am now also the victim of PAP's foreign talent policy.

I have been out of job since April 2019 and wrote a similar letter (it seemed that Professor Koh verbalised out exactly my own Letter) to the Prime Minister facebook messenger.

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This is my own Letter in early September 2019:

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

In the spirit of Smart Nation, I recently pursued a digital innovation subject, from Berkeley University, one of the top 10 in USA; and returned back to Singapore in Nov 2018, excited to serve my country with my upgraded skillset; seeking a job; but I am not given a chance. Just because I am now an “old PMET” in my mid40s. 

I really want a chance to contribute to building Singapore's digital economy with my ICT-cum-Business Project Management skillset but nobody in the past 5 months is interested. I do have this skillset required to contribute to the success of Digital Transformation projects, as certified by Berkeley University.  If a decent qualified and proven skilled PMET jobseeker cannot find an entry-level PMET job, what more for those less qualified and skilled? I reach out to you because I deeply believe in the government systems. In my mid40s now with no job, how to sustain with no job until the new retirement age endorsed in our National Day Rally Speech? 

I wish to highlight to you my case not to seek your pity but to seek to understand questions that touch the hearts and intellect of real Singaporeans born in Singapore that believed in the Singapore system of Singaporean-First jobs. 

I became unemployed in April 2019. In a nice way, my last Company requested me to resign after my assignment is completed and handed over. Since May 2019; All recruitment agents have no follow-up response after submitting my CV to the hirer/ employer. Even one agent cancelled my interview citing the SG job had moved out to China within a matter of 3 days (I have screenshot proof) of scheduling my job interview.  (The agent was from AryanSearch whereby the agent communicated through an overseas foreign handphone number). Is it correct that this Employer comes to open a new Singapore office and shift Singapore jobs out of Singapore to overseas immediately after opening office in SG? (Company is World Wide Technology @ press release https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/news-and-events/insights/headquarters/tech-firm-wwt-looks-to-asia-pacific-for-expansion.html  ; supposedly said by EDB Lee Eng Kiat in May 2019 "will lead to good Singaporean jobs"). 

Many other agents (eg from Tata Consulting TCS directly) communicating to me through foreign handphone numbers received my CV but I never heard from them after that. I also met/ called other Recruiters in person every other week.

After all these 2 months of failures, I called up Adapt and Grow out of frustration but was told they can only help after 6 months out-of-a-job.

I sought support from e2i and followed all their advice; went to Jobfairs, Innovation Events (eg Innovest, EPIC and Blockchain Day organised by e2i) onsite seeking jobs from Startup companies (3 Blockchain-related young startups in fact); went for face interviews only to hear that they were not hiring, even after told to them honestly about the CSP win-win scheme for Employers and the Candidate like myself with real value-add to grow their business as a Digital Marketer (for example). I was asking a basic entry-level salary of $3500/- only which is surely workable under "CSP".

Another company ZVFINTECH called me to start work in their posh office (which I did real translation support from Chinese to English company information and also called up HK and Singapore contacts) without giving me an Employment Contract. When I insisted for it while working in their office, I was finally told by the MD that she won't give me any Contract as promised earlier, with no reason. I wasted weeks pursuing this job; when time is critical to secure new income as soon as possible.

When I went to e2i coach again the second time to escalate, the coach kept asking me 5 times "What can I do for you xxx?" after I had stated clearly; I wanted Government help to land a job. I was shocked! I came to her assistance, seeking her support and she kept asking back this same question that I asked her.

At WSG, I was told by the Officer, that they cannot assist me just because my case is still under e2i. 

Is this how Singapore is supposed to be "Inclusive" to Singaporeans? That over-40 PMETS can only perform GRAB-Driving, Security Guard, cleaner, Telemarketer, Cafe Waitress and other Blue Collar (non-PMET) jobs?  Companies know they can hire foreigner PMET after not hiring local PMETs over a period of time, by MOM "EP" conditions.

I am only asking for a basic entry-level salary, though in my mid40s. I have applied online to so many job portals with 200 applicants for the same job.

I have been to countless Job Fairs (walk-in and virtual online) but how do you expect a PMET to be a forklift driver and other blue-collar jobs? And the same jobs are advertised over and over in subsequent job fairs.

All the avenues and actions suggested by e2i coach eg finding my own Digital Marketing employers etc; I have even hands-on and showcased my Digital Marketing project on my CV to potential employers but NONE of them is hiring at all; None want to take part in the Digital Marketing course subsidized by Government. Nobody had replied. I can show proof of so many CVs that are being sent.

I am at a complete loss of what Singapore has become and would appreciate your guidance here. Many Thanks, Mr Prime Minister.

Yours faithfully,

xxxxx (author's name removed)