In 2020, unemployment and retrenchment rates ticked upwards as the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on the labour market in Singapore.
Employment grew in the first quarter of 2021 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
However, despite the improvements in employment rates, the job market has not returned to pre-Covid conditions, and many companies are still undergoing restructuring and reorganising.
According to former Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, there could still be “pockets of job displacements’ ‘, and both employers and job seekers are encouraged to keep an open mind as the profiles of job vacancies have changed.
The government has since rolled out the SGUnited suite of programmes and services which is aimed at providing some cushion for jobseekers and enterprises impacted by the pandemic.
To consolidate all the various services available, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) released new employment support modules on the LifeSG app for jobseekers.
Vulcan Post spoke to three Singaporean job seekers to understand how the new employment support modules on LifeSG helped them in their job search.
A more user-centric approach
The slew of different job search platforms — from Telegram channels to LinkedIn and JobStreet — might make the whole process of finding a job extremely tedious and complicated.
This is especially so if the job seeker is unsure of their career interests or particular industry that they would like to enter.
Siti Munirah Ezar, in particular, quit her job as a management support officer in August last year to focus on looking after her children full-time.
The Business Studies graduate is now looking to re-enter the workforce, but like many, she is unsure of what to pursue next. This is why she found the “Discover your interests” section under the “Support for your job search” guide particularly useful.
“I didn’t know what role is suitable for me, so the online assessment tools helped me to suss out some potential career paths that I can take on,” she told Vulcan Post after trying out the feature.
“By figuring out what I want, I can better apply for the relevant jobs, instead of casting my net too wide.”
On the other hand, fresh graduate Dylan Teo found that the “Find job opportunities” section was more useful for him as a new job seeker.
The 25-year-old has been searching for a job since February but has not received many favourable responses.
“The LifeSG app allowed me to easily explore job postings online with MyCareersFuture, which is useful as I do not need to spend my time scouring through various websites,” said the National University of Singapore graduate.
“Besides, there is also the option to attend career fairs and networking events, which I think is very important when looking for a job.”
It is evident that the LifeSG app caters to different types of job seekers, from those looking for their first job to those looking to re-enter the workforce after a period of time.
For example, fresh graduates would find the “Get career advice and coaching” and “find job opportunities” to be more useful, while mid-career individuals are likely to find more value in “make a career switch” and “upgrade your skills”.
Other services include getting financial support if you’re out of a job or got a paycut, and information on fair retrenchment practices.
According to data released by the MOM in September 2020, around 11,350 people lost their jobs in the first half of last year.
Retrenchments in the second quarter of 2020 were above the peak which happened during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003.
Furthermore, more businesses announced wage cuts or nudged employees to go on no-pay leave amid the pandemic and recession.
Even though the government has rolled out various financial schemes to help those affected, many might have previously been unaware due to the vast amount of information available online.
The LifeSG app will be useful in helping affected individuals understand what type of help is available to them, and the corresponding way to apply for such aid.
Upskilling and reskilling as a key way to progress
According to recruitment expert Hays’ Singapore regional director Grant Torrens, employers are beginning to hire based on “clusters of skills rather than a traditional on-paper perfect fit.”
Even before the pandemic struck, employers have already been moving towards a more skills-based approach of hiring, which has since been accelerated Covid-19.
The Singapore government has also encouraged Singaporeans to continue to acquire new skills and reskill, such that they would not be left behind in the race for employment.
With that, the programmes under SkillsFuture aim to help Singaporeans find a footing when reskilling and upskilling, as well as to support lifelong learning.
Samuel Lim, who is currently in-between jobs, felt that the LifeSG app was useful in helping him on his quest to learn new skills.
The 26-year-old is an Economics graduate who aims to take on a career in software development. Besides actively looking out for new opportunities in the field, he also puts in the additional effort to pick up new skills.
“The LifeSG app allows me to manage all my SkillsFuture credits easily. I can also browse through and apply for the courses available via the app, which is so much simpler than toggling between various web pages,” said Samuel.
The “government benefits” section on the LifeSG app allows users to check their SkillsFuture Credit balance, as well as access the SkillsFuture portal.
Besides SkillsFuture credit, there is a host of training funds and grants that Singaporeans can apply for, which Siti only found out about when using the LifeSG app.
“I thought that to upgrade my skills, I can only use SkillsFuture credits, but there are also workshops to help you with résumé writing, confidence and interview skills for your job search,” she said.
The 31-year-old shared that she was worried that her interview skills might be rusty, so the service would be very beneficial in helping her increase her chances of employability.
She also believes that enhancing and upgrading her skills also gives her a better fighting chance, or competitive edge, against younger job seekers.
A one-stop resource hub for Singaporeans
The LifeSG app acts very much like a one-stop platform to connect Singaporeans to various government services, from checking your CPF balance to renewing your season parking at HDB estates.
The newly added job support modules also greatly aids Singaporeans in all aspects of finding a job.
Searching for a job can be a very overwhelming process, but LifeSG will be able to provide job seekers with assistance from the start till the end — from brushing up on interview skills to attending virtual career fairs and taking part in courses to develop new skills
To get help in your job search at your fingertips, start here.
This article was written in collaboration with Workforce Singapore.
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post