Future of Singapore This is a subject of rising concern despite the media's glowing employment figures. By Derek Wee Oct 12, 2006
When I read the Straits Times article (dated 24 Sep) on PM Lee calling the young to be committed and make a difference to Singapore, I have so much thought about the issue.
I am 35 years old, graduated from University and gainfully employed in a multinational company. But I cannot help but feel insecure over the future of Singapore. Lets face it, it's not uncommon to hear, "when you are above 40, you are over the hill".
The government has been stressing on re-training, skills upgrading and re-adapt. The fact is, no matter how well qualified or adaptable one is, once you hit the magical 40, employers will say, "you are simply too old".
We have been focusing our resources and problem solving on low unskilled labour. But in reality, our managerial positions and skilled labour force are actually fast losing its competitiveness.
I travel around the region frequently for the past 10 years. It didn't take me long to realise how far our neighbours have come over the past decade.
They have quality skilled workers, and are less expensive. When I work with them, their analytical skills are equally good, if not better than us.
It's not new anymore. Taxi drivers are fast becoming "too early to retire, too old to work" segment of the society. I like to talk to taxi drivers whenever I am heading for the airport.
There was this driver. Eloquent and well read. He was an export manager for 12 years with an MNC. Retrenched at 40 years old. He had been searching for a job since his retrenchment.
Although he was willing to lower his pay expectations, employers were not willing to lower their prejudice. He was deemed too old. I wouldn't be surprised if we have another No. 1; having the most highly educated taxi drivers in the world.
On PM Lee calling the young to be committed and make a difference. Look around us. How dedicated can we be to Singapore when we can visualise what's in store for us after we turned 40? Then again, how committed are employers to us? But we can't blame them. They have bottom lines & shareholders' gain to answer to.
Onus is really on the government to revamp the society. A society that is not a pressure cooker. A society that does not mirror so perfectly, what survival of the fittest is.
But a society, where it's people can be committed, do their best and not having to fear whether they will still wake up employed tomorrow. Sadly, Singapore does not offer such luxuries and security anymore.
On the issue of babies. The government encourages us to pro-create. The next generation is essential in sustaining our competitive edge. Then again, the current market condition is such that our future has become uncertain. There is no more joy in having babies anymore; they have become more of a liability. It's really a chicken and egg issue.
Many of my peers, bright and well educated have packed up and left. It's what MM Goh called "quitters". It's sad but true, Singapore no longer is a place where one can hope to work hard their lives and retire graciously. It's really the push factor.
A future is something we sweat it out, build and call our own. Unfortunately, people like me, mid 30's going on 40's, staying put by choice or otherwise, we can't help but feel what lies ahead is really a gamble.
To PM Lee and the Ministers, we are on a different platform. Until you truly understand our insecurity, the future of Singapore to me remains a question mark. (SPH rejected this letter - From: LocalSin)
Comments Richard Sim said, Good article. keep it up
KC said, True to every word. I am in my 40s, and I experienced the same sentiment in the job market.
Anonymous said, that was a great blog!! kinda make mi worry abt my future...
Anonymous said, Honestly, you echo my sentiments, It's true. Those that got their fate in their hands are self-employed ones. Yes, keep it up!
Anonymous said, well written! You know what, I share the same sentiment, except that I do not pen my thoughts down..... This is especially true to the reality, if not cruelty of this world. Despite the tripartite guidelines on non-discriminatory recruitment, if we look around us, the fact speaks for itself....... At the end of the day, the ones that suffer the most are those from the middle class as well as those that are heading for their sunset... 40s & above.
Anonymous said... Great, welcome to the real world.... It's creepy but real that Singapore's future is so uncertain and bleak. Definitely something needs to be done for the future of Singapore and our next generation.
Anonymous said, Keep it up..man..You say it all...U hit the G spot of our life in Singapore.. Excellent writeout.. Should bring it up to our Government Feedback Section to tell them how hard our life is in S'pore if you reach 40....sigh..
Anonymous said, Hey!!! You write VERY WELL, but I´m surprised reading it, I didn´t know it was so difficult for you to work here when you are 40. In Europe to be in your 40´s mean to be in the perfect age - for business, for teaching, for EVERYTHING… also 50´s coz your experience! Well, you can always have the possibility of moving, right? Although I don´t think a company would tell you to leave if you are doing good. AND YOU LOVE YOUR COUNTRY, YES? So… fight for being the best in your company and you´ll have the support of all your bosses. You are a good writer… (from Spain)
anonymous said, This is a pro-biz government. No use blaming them when voters did not sent the right signals. The people deserve the government.
Anonymous said, Sad that this country has regressed so much! While we worry about the bleak and uncertain future, we open our arms to welcome so called FT talent/foreigners to seek greener pasture here! Goddamn! What a revelation!
Anonymous said, Not only are babies a liability, but any thinking parent would be concerned about putting their kids through the same shitty system and let them suffer the same fate in the future. The pink IC isn't worth much any more. It's sad. It didn't have to be that way. Many people are voting with their feet. The government is only too pleased when it happens - more cheap foreign workers can be imported as replacements. Notice employment stats use the term 'residents' instead of 'citizens', and 'residents' includes the PRs and even certain categories of work visa holders. Simply amazing.
Anonymous said... I am just over 50. I lost my job arround 50. There is no job available for the last few years searching despite my extensive experience/qualification. Some recruiters even told me I should retire and asked why should I bother to find a job. When I was around 30/40, I was always headhunted for well-paid jobs. But, now there is hardly any call from headhunters. Most companies do not respond to your write-in for job. It seems my skill/experience was highly sought in past years whereas it has suddenly become useless in recent years. Why? If you are still in your 30s or 40s, plan for your future NOW! It may be too late when you are at 50s. Migrating to Europe may be an option according to our friend in spain. Cheers
Anonymous said... That happens when you have 140th reporting news here! Truly Global city of residents not citizens?
duracell said... Good blog. And the implication of this trend is not lost on the young. Already we are seeing rising trends where people just want to make their pot of gold as fast as possible, and by any means necessary. The hit and run mentality, no more morals and ethics. This country treats its people like batteries with short lifespan. Use em, squeeze em and chuck em!