Amidst concerns from employers about manpower crunch, mid-career tech professionals are also increasingly finding it a challenge to land suitable jobs. Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive, WorkforceSingapore(WSG), shares how the agency is going the extra mile to bring employers and jobseekers together, and also ensure compatibility and complementarity between employers and jobseekers.
Q: Question, CS: Choon Shian
ON MISSED MATCHES
Q: We’ve been reading a lot about “missed matches” in Ministry of Manpower’s reports. What does “missed matches” mean and what is WSG doing to help reduce its occurrence?
CS: Missed matches are like lost opportunities. The jobseeker has what the employer needs – job skills and soft skills like work attitude, and the employer has what the jobseeker wants – salary, work conditions, growth opportunities. But somehow, the two are unable to connect.
To help reduce the occurrence of missed matches, WSG has increased the opportunities to match and connect both jobseekers and employers through career fairs, talks, events and virtual channels such as the Jobs Bank. Our career coaches at WSG’s Careers Connect also help to match suitable jobseekers to hiring employers.
Q: How does job mismatches affect the tech industry?
CS: Mismatches arise when there is a gap between what jobseekers want and what employers are looking for. This gap could arise from different skills, wages and/or job expectations, and the trend of mismatches might increase as the workforce ages.
The tech industry, driven by a high rate of technology disruptions, moves faster than other sectors. As a result, there are always new jobs requiring new skills in the sector. Because of this, skills gaps develop quickly in the technology sector. Those few that have the appropriate skills might be poached by others quickly. This doesn’t improve the situation, so to help employers, WSG looks at improving the overall capability of skilled professionals, and works together with partners such as the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Singapore Computer Society (SCS) to train up these pools of professionals.
Q: What help is WSG providing to minimise mismatches?
CS: To address the problem of skills mismatches, we have Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) to help tech professionals convert from one job to another. Being a fast-moving industry, it is common for employers in the tech industry to not be able to find jobseekers who possess the exact skills they need.
We encourage employers to take on new employees, including experienced mature professionals who may not have the skills to do the job now, but have the aptitude and are willing to be trained on the job. Through the PCP, WSG will fund a portion of their salary during the training period. The idea is to take very experienced people, deepen their domain knowledge and top them up with new skills. At the end of the PCP, the company will have very experienced new staff; and the industry will gain more professionals with deep domain knowledge and skills.
Another aspect that WSG tries to address is the wage mismatch. Quite often, we see experienced professionals who have done well in their past job positions having certain salary expectations. While employers recognise the value these jobseekers bring, they may eventually select a candidate with lower salary expectations to manage cost considerations. Employers facing this dilemma can tap on the Career Support Programme (CSP) which provides wage support for a while to help employers bear part of the financial risk of taking on an experienced jobseeker. In some cases, with the CSP, the salary support for employers to hire mature jobseekers could amount up to $42,000 over a period of 18 months.
ON ADAPT AND GROW
Q: Are there any programmes that address the rising gig economy?
CS: Under WSG’s Adapt and Grow initiative, there is a whole suite of programmes to help individuals adapt and grow in this new economy. Particularly, the PCP Attach and Train (AnT) mode is one such programme designed to help employers who are not ready to make official job offers but require professional help when there are projects. In the digital media industry where there are many freelancing assignments, PCP (AnT) allows individuals to learn new skills; and companies to get help from skilled professionals; and the industry at large grows – a winning outcome for all.
Q: What advice would you give to tech professionals to adapt and grow in this changing landscape?
CS: Singapore’s population is ageing.
The workforce and employer landscape is adjusting and will continue to adjust. I’m optimistic that in the future, a different employment landscape will arise where everyone is valued based on skills, and not age. This is a work in progress and we are working hard on it.
I also want to encourage tech professionals to stay relevant. Every now and then, please visit the WSG website, visit Jobs Bank, and learn about the skills in demand. This will give you a sense of how the labour market is shifting so that when the time comes, you are better prepared. Keeping updated on the labour market will give you a sense of where the new jobs are and what the new skills are.
Some of the jobseekers whom we are assisting are at a loss because they never thought of looking for a job. And now that they have to, they realise that their knowledge of the labour market is outdated.
The whole economy is transforming, business models, companies, and competition are also changing. This means everyone in the workforce has to learn something new and do something new to adapt and grow.