Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) said that there are thousands of jobs waiting to be filled (The Straits Times 21 October 2016). These jobs are:
- 30,000 IT professionals needed by 2017
- 3,000 PMETs in precision engineering by 2020
- 1,000 rail engineers
- 1,200 professionals needed in finance mostly in IT and Compliance
- 4,000 early childhood educators needed in coming years
(Source: The Straits Times)
Minister for Health said that 30,000 more healthcare workers are needed in 5 years.
It is well and good when we know the industries with job opportunities. In fact these types of information are made available to institutions of higher learning so that they can plan new courses and to increase intake for new cohort of students. It takes 2 to 3 years for polytechnic students (including matured students) to acquire new specialised skills to be able to fill the new jobs.
On an immediate basis, retrenched workers will need that long training period to switch careers from the ones that they were previously employed in. It is quite an exception when employers are willing to take in a new employee without relevant experience and then train them on the job. Most would want employees that can come in and hit the ground running.
The job openings listed above are in specialised fields mainly in the Infocomm Technology (ICT) sector and the health sector. Not everyone is cut out for these two types of professions. The ICT requires logical thinking, system thinking and a perseverance to solve system problems. If one is not that then it can be a misfit and miserable when one tries to get into that line. In the case of health care sector jobs, one must have the passion to take care of sick patients. These people are compassionate and caring with the right temperament for the jobs. One cannot just go in because there are job openings.
What I am saying is that this is structural unemployment (even with job openings) and it is harder to solve immediately. The mismatch in current skills and job requirements will need time to adjust starting with sufficient specialist training for the retrenched workers.
In the meantime, retrenched workers need to undergo a period of painful adjustments to be employable again. This is the reality and one must read beyond the news headlines that seemed to suggest that many jobs are there for the picking.