I am born in Singapore just before 1980s. The economy is doing well and jobs are stable. There is hardly anything called retrenchment, reorganisation or cost-cutting. In fact, at those times, employers appreciate loyalty from employees. My father ran a very small shop with my mother being the only other employee. Business was fine and my parents got by on a small profit. University graduates at that time have iron rice bowls.
Then in the 1990s when I’m a teenager, I witnessed economic restructuring in Singapore. Shops in sunset industries, like my father’s, started to go down in business and some folded up. My father tried very hard to sustain the business. But eventually, unable to withstand the constant losses, he ended his business. Thereafter, he and my mother started taking up simple, odd jobs here and there as well as worked as hawkers to make a living. Fortunately, I and my siblings were able to start supporting our parents within a few years and they were able to have a simple retirement in their 50s. I saw the struggles of my parents then and I told myself that I will study very hard and do well in school so that I can have a much better life when I grow up. I also thought that such economic restructuring in Singapore will be addressed so that future generations may not have such a hard time trying to make a living and supporting their families.
Fast forward to our current generation, we have experienced constant change and relentless economic and corporate restructuring since the 2000s. Retrenchment and corporate cost-cutting and restructuring started becoming fashionable. Workers being retrenched in their 40-50s starts becoming more of a common norm. Thereafter, they may be able to find another job albeit with less attractive remuneration. Children start witnessing their parents losing their jobs when they are around teenagers. They could see their parents struggled in jobs until their graduation from schools.
Now in 2010s, with the current job market, Singaporeans start to experience retrenchment as early as late 30s to 40s. Finding another job gets less easy and they have to accept much less attractive remuneration. Children can start witnessing their parents losing jobs when they are in primary schools. Thereafter, they may see their parents struggling in jobs to support them throughout school. People are finding themselves unable to save enough for their retirement. Some may have to work at small jobs until their ripe, old age.
I am just disheartened that the livelihood of Singaporeans have not gotten better over the years.