Unemployment, Retrenchment creeping up. What can you do about it?

By August 2, 2018Current

TL;DR – Don’t wait till you’re unemployed to get ready.

The latest labour figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that more workers were retrenched in the second quarter of the year, while unemployment also crept up last month. The jobless rate for citizens and permanent residents rose from 2.8% at the close of the first quarter to 3% at the end of the second quarter. Preliminary estimates showed that 2,500 workers were retrenched, up from 2,320 workers in the first quarter.

While economists thought that the rise  in numbers was small and did not pose a major concern, the threat of a full-blown trade war between the United States and China could place a drag on hiring going ahead. Also, rapid changes in technology continues to disrupt jobs.

Times like this, what can you do to ensure that you continue to have a job for as long as you want to work?

Well, for a start, you have to accept the reality that no one owes you a living. Your employer will only continue to employ you if you can create more value for your employer than what you are being paid. If you can’t, why would your employer want to employ you?

So, what you want to do, is to develop the skills needed to keep increasing the value that you can create for your employer.

1. Gaining new skills through ITM-related programmes

That’s not an easy task. But it can be done.

Mr Ajis Jaafar did it. Ajis first joined the Ministry of Health as a healthcare attendant 33 years ago in 1985. He only had a Primary 6 education and it was not easy to secure a permanent job. In 2001, Ajis was transferred to the present Institute of Mental Health (IMH) facility in Buangkok.

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In 2016, Ajis successfully completed the Skills Upgrading Programme implemented by IMH. The programme was part of the the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map and supported by the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute). Besides in-house training, he also received on-the-job training.

IMH Health Assistant, Ajis Jaafar said, “I want to learn and be better so that I can better support my team and do my best for my patients.” (via)


Through the programme, Ajis gained the skills needed to create more value for his employer. Consequently, he gained a promotion from healthcare attendant to healthcare assistant. He also enjoyed a pay increment that has allowed him to better support his children.

Prior to his promotion, Ajis was only responsible for supporting the nursing staff in the delivery of patient care and cleanliness of the environment. With the promotion, his role has expanded to include clinical duties such as recording blood pressure, temperature and heart rate.


Translating the 23 ITMs is one of the many things that e2i does.

Founded in 2008, e2i recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. In the 10 years since its founding, e2i has assisted more than 600,000 individuals through our career guidance, professional development, and job matching services. With an extensive network of partners, e2i offers hiring, training and productivity solutions to businesses.


2. Encouraging companies to redesign jobs

One of the unusual things that e2i does is to help companies improve their productivity through the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP).

As companies improve their productivity, jobs can be redesigned so that employees share in the productivity gains, which leads to better skills, better jobs, better pay.

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One company that benefitted from e2i’s IGP is Preparazzi. Preparazzi is a high-end catering business. They used to specialise in large scale VIP events. Their regular clientele include luxury brands, and high-end retailers. But the retail sector slowed down significantly and cut down on marketing events.

As a result, Preparazzi’s business was faced with a massive challenge in 2016. It was so bad that at one point in time, they were considering either closing down or merging with a larger catering company. If they chose either of those options, they would have to let go some of their staff.

Mr Jeremy Nguee, Business Director of Preparazzi, revealed the challenges the business was facing at one point, and how e2i’s IGP helped to pivot their business and save jobs. (Image by Smithankyou)


Thankfully, they got help from e2i.

They used the IGP funding to pivot their business model. In addition to their catering business, they added a cafe to their portfolio. They used the funding from IGP to help pay for the machinery and even the takeover fee of the cafe. He also shared that e2i was very open to negotiation. e2i agreed to fund some things which Jeremy thought didn’t meet the criteria for IGP funding.

As a result of the IGP funding, Preparazzi was able to redesign the work in the cafe. The company were thus able to keep their staff.

Not only that, they were able to hire more staff. They used to mainly hire chefs. Now they can hire other roles, including front-of-house staff, people to do marketing materials and run marketing campaigns. Such a setup also allows Preparazzi to provide their staff greater training opportunities and career growth.

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3. Making it easier for workers to take ownership of learning

Other than working with the Government, unions and also employers to train workers, e2i is also a strong advocate for individuals to take ownership of our own skills upgrading journey.

It launched the U Career Network in 2017. The U Career Network comprises employability coaches, ambassadors, and industry mentors, to forge a lifelong relationship with workers throughout their career journey.

In addition to that, e2i launched NTUC’s U Leap app, a mobile learning platform where workers can acquire new knowledge quickly through short multimedia content and bite-sized modules.

ULeap (Learning Enabled through Active Participation) enriches learning communities through courses delivered in bite-size and trending discussions (via)

We’ve got to do our part too

As much as organisations like e2i can help, we need to do our part. If we are not commit to deepen existing skills and learn new ones, even the best programmes out there will be useless. And we will likely find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of being out of a job.

Let’s not wait until then to start looking for help.




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Author CRC

Working on a startup is a scary crazy process. To destress, I write random stuff.

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