First of all, thanks for allowing us to interview you online Gerry and can you provide us with some background information about yourself?

Gerry: I am young, qualified and jobless deaf Singaporean guy. I am a graduate from a local university in my mid-20s. I studied IT-related course and wanted to seek better job prospects despite my disability.

What was  your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for a few months, can you tell us more about this and  also  your job search experience?

Gerry: My last occupation was with a developer. I was unemployed for at least 6 months after I was terminated by a SME company on the very first day of 2016. The director of this company gave me two letters (final warning letter and termination letter) on the SAME day! It was unfair dismissal to say the least…

I was very depressed and hopeless. It was difficult for the deaf graduate to search for IT jobs. I considered to widen my job search scope (e.g. admin work, data entry, etc). I also considered lowering my expectations  which is already lower than the hearing peers’ expectations.

Employers prefer hearing interviewees to deaf interviewees. As a hearing impaired, I fear that the interviewers will more likely not hire me if I mention my disability “Deaf” on my resume.

I tried to apply for job positions to different companies. But this method (applying for job positions myself) was more challenging as compared to the job placement centres for people with disabilities. I wrote to different companies about my interest in job positions (IT or admin work jobs). I informed them about my disability and so  far, I have never hear any reply from them.

For the hearing-impaired, seeking job assistance from job placement centres is more convenient than applying for job positions on their own. 

Discrimination against the hearing-impaired and other people with disabilities definitely exist in the job search. It is not easy for them to find the coveted jobs.

You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than six months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?

Gerry: I approached two job placement centres that provide support for people with disabilities looking for employment. I waited for many months before one of the job placement centres contacted me for an interview from a potential company. 

I cut down my expenses on food, mobile bills, transportation, outings and etc. I do not know whether my savings will be enough to cover my expenses for the next 6 months. My money is still in my CPF account. I feel so baddepending on my family in order to survive. When I get a job, I will repay my family.

I did not know about approaching CDC for assistance. I will try to approach CDC for assistance next time. 

Did you attend any interviews  during the past few  months  and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?

Gerry: I attended only one interview last month. I was informed to wait for the outcome within several weeks. The outcome is not out yet.

It is not easy to secure any interview for the deaf job seekers. Putting “deaf disability” in my resume will more likely put employers off.

The job placement centres which assist people with disabilities for employment are  still working on my case more than 6 months ago.

Tell us abit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.

Gerry: Singapore is a very competitive society.

Jobless deaf people cannot bargain for what they want (e.g. salary, working hours, etc) because they have very little opportunity for job interview.

Employers always prefer the hearing over the deaf for  job requirements e.g. able to make calls, able to meet clients and communicate faster by speaking (fast) than writing (slow), or communication issue at workplace.

Because of this, I learnt to be humble. As a hearing-impaired PMET, I cannot bargain to meet my own expectations. I lower my expectations which may be lower than the average normal people’s expectations.

I feel very bad making my family worried about my current jobless situation. I have told my family not to feel anxious. I am grateful they are  giving me support and encouragement during my plight. I want to repay them for their support when I secure a job one day.

What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?

Gerry: As a hearing-impaired PMET, I think I could have resigned myself to “temporary” F&B jobs like cleaner and service crew as the F&B industry have shortage of employees due to lower pay and longer working hours.

I have no choice but to accept it as a temporary stop-gap job in order to survive. However, after I learnt from the news about the Alice Fong-rant at the deaf elderly cleaner in the food court, I doubt I want to work in F&B industry now.

I could have work as a freelance web designer or web application developer in order to reduce my unemployment period.

Back-end jobs such as data entry and admin work could be considered too. 

Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?

Gerry: Definitely. Singapore remains the world’s most expensive city. Consumer prices will go up so will the CPF minimum sum. 

Singapore also currently does not have a stable social welfare system because Singapore is known as a self-reliant city.

The hearing-impaired Singaporeans do not receive any welfare payouts from Singapore government. If they are needy or low income people, they are entitled to some financial assistance.

As compared to Singapore, my deaf friends from Hong Kong and Japan enjoy far better social welfare payout from their respective social welfare system.

What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?

Gerry: When the employer wants to terminate or retrench employees, the government should encourage the employer to provide the termination package or retrenchment package. I did not have a proper termination package from my previous company but I only received my pro-rated salary. 

The government should also encourage the companies to hire Singaporeans first. The government should provide more incentives to these companies to meet the local manpower  quota and are not be addicted to cheap foreign labor.

The government should give tax breaks or subsidies if these companies are willing to take on long term unemployed people.

The government should increase its spending to train unemployed or unskilled people so that they will find new jobs in some industries where there is a lack of manpower.

More importantly, the government should be more pro-active in campaigning for people with disabilities to find employment.

Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?

Gerry: I cannot say whether foreigners should be blamed for competing jobs with Singaporeans. I think it could be due to cause and effect.

First, Singaporean set their expectations high just to meet their social-economical necessities. Probably it is due to the fact that Singapore is the most expensive city in the world right now.

The current influx of foreigners lead to many issues such as depressed wages, higher cost of living (e.g. transport, education, housing), overcrowded areas (e.g. MRT), etc.

Moreover, foreigners create their own clique groups at the workplace, usually in the big companies or MNCs. In some cases, they want to hire their own nationalities instead of Singaporeans for the jobs. 

Lastly, what’s your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down?

Gerry: Don’t give up on searching for jobs. What’s more important is to take care of your health as health is wealth.

Perhaps volunteering can help you to open up a new door for career employment and networking opportunities.

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