According to MOM statistics released last month, only 62% of degree holders are able to find a new job within 12 months of losing their job last year.
That means, 38% of them can’t find a job within 1 year after they are laid off.
This is compared to the next lowest rate of 65% for workers with polytechnic diplomas and professional qualifications, and the highest of 71% for those with secondary qualifications.
Degree holders have had the lowest rate of finding new job after being laid off, since 2011.
Also since 2011, degree holders being made redundant was also disproportionately higher than other qualification groups. Last year, degree holders made up 39% of workers who were laid off.
Experts suggested three reasons for this:
jobs lost in restructuring tending to be held by graduates
greater demand for non-academic skills, and
substitution by “skilled foreign labour”
IT project manager Sylvia Tan, 51, lost her job of 29 years when her business unit was cut earlier this year due to restructuring.
“If I had been able to pick up new skills like cloud computing and analytics, maybe they would have retained me,” the computer science graduate said. “But they probably prefer to pay a younger person with less experience and newer skills.”
She found a similar role at a new company within a month, but only because she took a pay cut of 43%.
Many affected Singaporean workers are blaming the over-liberal “foreign talent” policy instituted by the government. In fact, with more “skilled foreign labour” being hired, it exacerbates the problem because the “skilled foreign labour” will tend to hire other “skilled foreign labour”, discriminating the Singaporean workers further.
A survey conducted by recruitment firm eFinancialCareers last year confirmed that a large number of companies in the finance industry are discriminating against Singaporean hires. According to the survey, a majority or 52% of the respondents said their companies had favored foreigners for some job openings (‘Survey confirms rampant job discrimination against SGs‘).
In fact, the situation was so bad that 2 Cabinet Ministers had to have a “friendly talk” with senior members of the financial industry.
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin told Parliament in March last year that he and Finance Minister Tharman met senior members of the financial industry to urge them to develop a local talent pipeline. Mr Tan said, without going into specifics, that there had been complaints of foreign managers preferring to hire their own countrymen and his ministry was investigating the matter.
In view of complaints made by Singaporeans, MOM will be putting in place the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) for getting the companies to consider hiring Singaporean workers first.
The FCF which will come into effect this August, requires that all positions paying less than $12,000 a month be advertised on a WDA jobs bank for 2 weeks before a foreign candidate can be hired.
The US, Britain and Australia all have similar skilled foreign workforce policies in place to prevent discrimination against their locals.
It remains to be seen how effective the FCF will be since there is no guarantee that a company will hire a Singaporean even after advertising on the WDA jobs bank. The company can easily discard all the Singaporean resumes after 2 weeks citing unsuitability and continue to hire the “preferred” foreign candidate.