When Elizabeth Boon took photos for her graduation shoot that went viral, she said she was “learning that graduating really just means unemployment and impending bankruptcy”. With the current soft job market, will youth unemployment in Singapore become a cause for concern?
Singapore’s job market does not look to be in good shape, and manpower minister Lim Swee Say reiterated this in Parliament earlier this week, saying that local labour force growth could stagnate in the next decade due to factors such as workers today looking for jobs that are different from those who have vacated them.
These jobseekers have better education and skills profiles and may be looking for jobs that meet these expectations and goals, said Lim.
He even said to fresh graduates that if they are able to adapt and acquire new skill sets, they may be able to weather the storm if they are not picky with their job requirements – a familiar line that was said by minister Chan Chun Sing last month.
With a current unemployment rate for degree-holders at 4.3 percent as of June this year, the highest since 2009, and employers not looking to hire this year, it could spell more problems for youth today.
Amanda Foo, a communications and new media major in her final semester at the National University of Singapore believes that jobseekers like her are looking for something with growth and opportunity.
“I’m looking for jobs with growth opportunities. That’s the most important factor to me. I want learning opportunities, opportunities to diversify my portfolio and add to my skill sets,” she said.
However, for some fresh graduates, they have observed that some companies expect a lot from them but with pay that is not commensurate with their needs.
“A lot of these jobs look at years of work experience and although I’ve been working for a few years now, these jobs would only want to offer me entry-level pay as “Oh, you need to learn how our company works, get used to the new work here”,” said Zakk, 24, who held a previous job as a junior producer but now works in an administrative job to take a break from the creative field.
She believes such companies are willing to pay lesser for interns or entry-level graduates instead of rewarding those with something more valuable.
“It’s a pity because I believe I’ve something valuable to offer to these companies with my skill sets and I’m definitely open to learn and enhance them with their guidance,” she said.
However, Georgia Ho, 24, a recent graduate from the English Literature major in the Nanyang Technological University, believes that succeeding in the current job market will mean that jobseekers have to adjust expectations. She intends to work in the book publishing industry, but is also open to jobs surrounding other forms of content creation.
“I believe it’s how you present yourself and put yourself out there to find a job where, as Aristotle puts it, your “talents and the needs of the world cross”,” she said.
Youth unemployment in Singapore: Are you an employer?
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Photo by Elizabeth Boon/Facebook