Singapore layoffs bulk of high-skilled workers, households feeling the pinch


High-skilled workers make bulk of layoffs last year

 

Office workers at Raffles Place. TODAY file photo

HIGHER-skilled workers, degree holders and middle-aged workers were the hardest hit by layoffs in Singapore last year, making up more of the pool of resident workers made redundant than workers of other occupational, educational and age groups.

These groups were also less likely than other resident workers to be in employment within six months of being made redundant, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) statistics showed.

Of the Singaporeans and permanent residents who lost their jobs last year, more than seven in 10 (71%) were professionals, ­managers, executives and technicians, up from 66% the year before.

This was disproportionately higher than their 54% share of the resident workforce last year.

Between workers with different educational qualifications, degree holders made up the largest share – 44% – of residents who lost their jobs last year. This was up from 41% in 2014.

One in three of the resident workers made redundant last year was aged 40 to 49, despite this group making up only about one in four of the overall resident workforce.

Less than half of both degree holders and middle-aged workers who were made redundant in the third quarter of the year were back in employment by December.

Some workers could have decided to go for training or stop looking for a job, MOM said in its report.

But another reason could be that older workers already have preferences, such as not wanting to do shift work, said Linda Teo, country manager of human resource firm ManpowerGroup Singapore.

“This means they won’t be at the top of the list when employers sieve through applications.”

Adecco Singapore country manager Femke Hellemons said workers here often move from industry to industry for a comparative advantage, and skilled workers may take more time to find a job that they have the right skills for that also matches their pay expectations.

Losing a job would be a blow for those over 40 years old and with higher skills as they tend to have higher financial obligations such as mortgages and children’s study loans, but at the same time they are more costly to employers, said DBS economist Irvin Seah.

Overall, redundancies rose over the year while the number of vacancies fell, which experts said was because of weak global demand.

“This could be a sign of companies adopting measures to achieve cost efficiencies through outsourcing, offshoring and adoption of technologies in their work processes,” said Foo See Yang, vice-president and country general manager of Kelly Services Singapore.

ManpowerGroup’s Teo said the employment pattern is likely to continue its downward slide, as hiring intentions for the next three months are at their weakest since the third quarter of 2009. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Layoffs in S’pore last year highest since 2009 Global crisis

In what could be a sign of worse things to come, more workers lost their jobs last year amid weaker economic conditions, although unemployment remained low.

A total of 15,580 workers were laid off in 2015, the fifth consecutive year of rising redundancies, according to full- year official data released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) yesterday.

Last year’s number climbed 20 per cent from 12,930 in 2014 and was the highest since the 2009 global financial crisis, which saw 23,430 workers laid off.

Job vacancies also fell to 53,700 as of December after accounting for seasonal variation, down 18 per cent from 65,500 a year earlier.

The trend could continue. “Amid the cyclical weakness and as the economy restructures, some consolidation and exit of businesses is expected,” MOM said.

Just over half, or 51 per cent, of the Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) made redundant from July to September last year were back in employment by the end of the year.

This figure measures the re-entry rates within six months of redundancy based on Central Provident Fund (CPF) records, and was down from 55 per cent three months earlier and 59 per cent at the end of 2014.

Still, the unemployment rate last year remained unchanged for Singaporeans, at 2.9 per cent. The figure including PRs was 2.8 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent in 2014.

There were 2,268,900 Singaporeans and PRs in jobs in Singapore as of the end of last year, just 700 more than there were a year earlier – when local employment had grown by 96,000.

With employment of foreigners also slowing, the total number of workers here stood at 3,656,200 at the end of last year.

For the year ahead, MOM expects redundancies to continue to rise in sectors facing weak external demand and that are undergoing restructuring, while domestic services sectors are likely to continue to need workers.

The Ministry added that it is “closely monitoring the current economic and labour market situation, and is strengthening employment support to help displaced locals re-enter employment”.

PMETs made up 71% of those affected as workers found it more difficult to get new jobs

SINGAPORE — The number of workers laid off last year spiked 20.5 per cent compared with 2014, reaching 15,580 — the highest number since the global financial crisis seven years ago, the latest Ministry of Manpower labour market report showed on Tuesday (March 15).

In 2009, the number of redundancies reached more than 23,000. The majority of last year’s lay-offs were in the services sector (55 per cent), where the financial services, wholesale trade and professional services were worst hit. Correspondingly, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) made up 71 per cent of those laid off last year, up from 66 per cent in 2014.

 The financial services sector — which had been hit by news ofjob cuts announced by global banks, affecting employees here — shed

1,710 jobs last year, compared to 1,280 in 2014. Over the same period, the number of workers laid off in wholesale trade climbed from 1,490 to 2,150, while job losses for those in professional services — including doctors, lawyers and accountants — rose from 1,520 to 2,290.

Workers who were laid off also found it more difficult to get a new job last year: Based on Central Provident Fund records, half of the residents made redundant in the third quarter of last year managed to secure employment by December, down from 55 per cent in the previous quarter, and 59 per cent in the same period in 2014.

MOM said it expects redundancies to continue to rise in sectors facing weak external demand and those that are undergoing restructuring. Domestic-oriented services sector will continue to need workers, the ministry said. “MOM is closely monitoring the current economic and labour market situation, and is strengthening employment support to help displaced locals re-enter employment,” it added.

Economists told TODAY that the slower global economic growth and the downturns in manufacturing as well as the oil and gas sectors have had a spillover effect into the services sector.

DBS Bank senior economist Irvin Seah said the slump in oil prices not only affect oil rig builders but the entire supply chain including smaller companies that support the oil and gas sector. The financial services sector would continue to see more job losses compared to other segments as it is going through some consolidation, Mr Seah said. As far as the labour market is concerned, the worst is yet to come as the global economic outlook deteriorates, he cautioned.

CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun said that while lay-offs may not necessarily increase over the year with some sectors still hiring, the pace of hiring may slow and this could push the unemployment rate up. “I would expect job seekers to take even longer to find a new job in the year head. Businesses may not be laying off more workers but they may not be that in a hurry to hire,” Mr Song
said.

Unemployment rate for residents was 2.8 per cent last year, inching up from 2.7 per cent in 2014, while that for citizens remained
unchanged at 2.9 per cent.

Mr Seah noted that the foreigners has borne the brunt of the job losses so far. “Companies are unwilling to let go of local workers because of the low foreign worker dependency ratio ceiling,” he said.

On the high proportion of PMETs laid off last year, Members of Parliament (MPs) from the labour movement attributed it to the fact that this group of workers comprise a higher percentage of the total workforce. Still, NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay, who is also an MP for West Coast GRC, said he was particularly concerned about PMETs above 40 years old, who would have a harder time finding a new job if they are retrenched.

Mr Tay, who co-chairs the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee which helps professionals seeking to find new jobs in the sector, suggested adopting a sectoral approach to provide more targeted and focused help in sectors where affected by high job losses.

Last month, the Association of Banks in Singapore announced that it has initiated a jobs portal that allows its members to refer their staff for suitable positions in other banks.

NTUC director of youth development Desmond Choo, who is an MP for Tampines GRC, said more efforts are needed to help PMETs. “We need to be able to re-skill, re-tool them (to join) other growing sectors … like healthcare and ICT (information communication technology),” said Mr Choo. More could also be done to provide “hardship support” for the families of retrenched PMETs while
they look for a job, he added.

Advanced data released by MOM in January showed that Singapore saw its worst year-on-year employment growth since 2003 last year.

Confirming the labour market’s sluggish performance, the latest MOM report said that excluding foreign domestic workers, total employment grew by 23,300 – or 0.7 per cent – last year, compared to increases of 122,100 (3.7 per cent) and 131,300 (4.2 per cent) in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

The growth in local employment was flat: Only 700 of the jobs added were filled last year by Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, compared to 96,000 and 82,900 in 2014 and 2013 respectively.

6,534 jobs lost in Malaysia since start of 2016, now is not the time to be choosy !


About 78% of jobs lost come from finance, insurance sectors

PETALING JAYA: A total of 6,534 workers from 114 companies have lost their jobs since the start of the year, with 5,118 or about 78% coming from the finance and insurance sectors.

The number, which is more than a sixth of the 38,499 workers retrenched last year, reflect the current economic downturn and challenging business climate.

The Labour Department, a unit under the Human Resources Ministry told theSun today it had received 115 retrenchment notifications from local employers since early this year until March 10.

It is a legal duty for employers to notify the department of every retrenchment activity.

The five top sectors involved in the exercise are manufacturing (22 notifications), mining and quarry (21 notifications), retail (13 notifications), construction (11 notifications), as well as finance and insurance (7 notifications) sectors.

In the manufacturing sector, about 437 workers were retrenched during the period, followed by 395 workers in the mining and quarry sector, 184 workers in retail sector and 155 workers in the construction sector.

The department added that it had received a total of 13 notifications from oil and gas sector (mining and quarry), which has affected 241 workers in total to date.

The department also revealed that professional and administration workers accounted the majority of workers affected, representing 72% or 4,720 of the total, while the remaining 28% or 1,814 were clerical workers and below.

Commenting on retrenchment laws and benefits, the department said although retrenchment is a managerial prerogative and there is no legal provision to prohibit any company from cutting their workforce, there are salient points within employment related regulations that sets conditions when an employer conducts a retrenchment exercise.

For instance, Section 60N of the Employment Act 1955 states that foreign workers should be the first to go in a staff reduction exercise.

Meanwhile, Regulation 6 states that employers are obligated to pay lay-off benefits based on the following conditions:

  • » 10 days wages for each year of service, for those with one to two years of service:
  • » 15 days wages for each year of service, for those with more than two years but less than five years service; and
  • » 20 days of wages for each year of service, for those with more than five years of service.

Employees not covered by the Employment Act 1955 may seek redress for possible remedy under the Industrial Relations Act 1967 if they are not paid any lay-off benefits.

The Labour department said the government facilitates retrenched workers who are seeking employment through an online portal services JobsMalaysia and its nationwide network of JobsMalaysia centres, which operate under the purview of the unit.

“In addition, the department through JobsMalaysia also conducts regular job/employment carnivals that aim to promote potential job vacancies for Malaysians including those affected through recent retrenchments,” it added.

Wan Ilaika Mohd Zakaria sunbiz@thesundaily.com

Now is not the time to be choosy

 

Times are tough, jobs are hard to come by and more and more are flooding the job market as companies fold and lay off staff. For Malaysians, it’s times to wake up and realize this means hard, even dirty, work.

 

What we need now iss the creation of jobs – a shot in the arm for the economy – and for Malaysians to understand that they have to get down and dirty before they can make a success of life.

THE old woman roams the back streets off Old Klang Road. With her slightly hunched body, and a smile on her face, she rummages through the dustbins in the alleys, digging into the bins with her stick.

She does dirty work, but she stays clean. She uses the sharp end of the stick to pick up the aluminium cans and plastic bottles. Her hands are only for cardboard and pieces of clean paper.

We call her Latha, for want of a name. She’s a Malaysian Chinese, from Klang.

Unlike some people’s stereotyped Chinese, she works hard, she puts in long hours and she makes just enough money to be comfor­table – by her standards. Thus, the smile on her wrinkled face.

But not all can do that.

The story of S. Sellamah is one such. She was desperate to feed her child. And she stole a 2kg packet of Milo. She was caught, fined and jailed. Now, she is on record as an ex-convict and lawyers are trying to get that jail sentence expunged. It doesn’t seem right that someone who stole so little out of desperation should have to live life with a record like that hanging over her head.

After all, I believe the guys in Milo would be happy to give her a carton of the stuff. They are people with big hearts. I know.

Over in Penang, a man also stole fruits and drinks, again to feed his children. His wife was in a coma and he had no money. He was caught, too.

But his story is one that warms the heart. The general manager of the hypermarket took pity on him, checked out his story and offered him a job instead. Now, the man has a job and his children can have decent meals. Isn’t that a wonderful ending to a sad story?

We are living in times of hardship. Prices are soaring. Jobs are getting scarce. Those with jobs are just happy to hang on to them. Companies are folding.

So many people have lost their jobs. Many are not even getting compensation for the jobs they lost. One media company actually told retrenched employees to go to court to get their compensation.

According to a report, more than 6,500 people have been let go from their jobs just this year. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Even Petronas is letting go of 1,000 employees.

And we are barely three months into 2016. Things are likely to get worse, far worse, be­fore they get any better. So, it would do to have a heart and spare a thought for the jobless.

Yes, there are thieves who would steal at the first chance – which is why many supermarkets lock up items like Milo tins – but if the cases are genuine, surely having a heart for the poor can’t be a bad thing.

Talking of the jobless, a bunch of schoolmates from Penang are now embarking on a plan to help them. They are setting up a portal for odd jobs. They call it dojob. The idea behind it is that people need cash in hand for immediate spending.

No CVs, no interviews. You need a waiter for the party you are having? You may be able to find someone there. A gardener to cut the overgrown grass? Someone with basic know­ledge of plumbing to fix a leaky pipe? Stuff like that.

I think it’s a great idea. And what’s more. It’s free. It’s just a platform to get a hirer and hiree to meet up.

Of course, there are questions to be answered – like how would people without jobs be able to access the internet to look for these jobs? But that’s for those guys to figure out.

But the aim is noble. It could help people like the two desperate shoplifters to find some quick cash and tide things over until a proper job comes along.

With Malaysians now des­­perately in need of jobs, it’s a good thing that the 1.5 million Bangladeshi worker deal is off. To have foreigners take away the few jobs will only make things worse, not to mention the almost RM30bil that’s sent back to their homes.

What we need now is the creation of jobs – a shot in the arm for the economy – and for Malaysians to understand that they have to get down and dirty before they can make a success of life. For most of us, our forefathers did just that.

There are many Bangladeshis who are now running their own motor repair shops and car washes. They started as lowly-paid wor­kers and now are employers to Malaysians! It’s time for Malaysians to wake up. Times are hard – and that calls for hard work.

By Dorairaj Nadason The Star

The writer, who can be reached at raj@the star.com.my knows all about hard work. When The Star was shut down in 1987, he had to be a carpenter’s assistant, lugging lumber up five floors. No lifts, just the stairs.
Related posts:

Feb 16, 2016 Having been through a few round of recessions and bad times … in a vulnerable financial situation, in order to face the challenges ahead.

 5 days ago At this testing time when many are faced with the burden of rising costs and economic slowdown, it is important to … A challenging year ahead.

Job cuts: rightsizing the oil and gas industry


THE slide in global crude oil prices has left a trail of casualties in its wake.

Oil companies and governments that rely on the price of crude oil for profit and revenue have been hurt by plunging receipts from lower crude oil prices.

For countries dependent on commodities such as crude oil, the effect cuts deeper. Their currencies have felt the brunt from the weaker crude oil prices and it is this group of countries that have a reliance on commodities that have seen the biggest depreciation against the US dollar compared with oil importing countries.

While the macro picture hogs the headlines and generates most of the chatter, the real micro cost of plunging crude oil prices has been felt by employment in the sector.

Many oil majors have announced job cuts to manage costs that had spiralled upwards during the boom days in the industry. Oil majors now have resorted to slashing their workforce amid the biggest downturn in the industry for decades.

For Malaysia, that impact is telling. Between January and July, the Malaysian labour market has laid off 6,547 people (not inclusive the voluntary separation schemes for Malaysia Airlines and banks). But 30% of that number, or nearly 2,000 people who lost their jobs, have come from the oil and gas industry alone.

“It is getting worse,” an oil industry executive says on the job cuts plaguing the industry. He says the oil major he works for is in the midst of a rightsizing exercise and that will mean many jobs will need to be slashed in the coming months.

“We have to reach a new equilibrium for the economies in the oil and gas sector.”

And it does not seem like the industry has hit a trough when it comes to retrenchment.

Part of that is down to the outlook for the price of crude oil. Although there is optimism that prices have hit a bottom, there is another school of thought that predicts more pain for the sector.

Supply from shale oil and future Iranian oil, once trade sanctions are lifted, are clouding the supply dynamics for crude oil and gas.

With expectation that oil prices will remain weak for the foreseeable future, oil majors continue to announce job layoffs. More jobs are expected to be cut next year.

In the US alone, oil companies are reported to have laid off more than 86,000 personnel from June last year up to September of this year. With many global giants having a presence in Malaysia, the workforce in the country will likely be included as part of a global cut in workforce.

Poor profit

The main culprit for job cuts among oil and gas has been the financial performance of those companies. As profits plunge, the knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs, and employment is in the crosshair of such cuts.

The hit on leaner employment prospects has already been told through not only the fall in crude oil prices but also cuts in capital expenditure and operating expenditure by Petronas Nasional Bhd. Companies that service the upstream segment of the industry have been the worst hit.

Downsizing: The main culprit for job cuts among oil and gas has been the financial performance of O&G companies. As profits plunge, the knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs, and employment is in the crosshair of such cuts. — EPA
Downsizing: The main culprit for job cuts among oil and gas has been the financial performance of O&G companies. As profits plunge, the knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs, and employment is in the crosshair of such cuts. — EPA

Petronas, the driver of the local oil and gas industry, has cut its operating costs and that has meant lesser demand for services provided by the oil and gas industry.

An industry official says Petronas, for its part, is not retrenching employees at the moment despite pressure to maintain profitability. It will cut bonuses in order to keep its permanent staff.

“There is no rightsizing of permanent staff at Petronas but whether it renews the contracts of high-paying employees is another thing,” he says.

The hardest hit segment on the industry’s value chain has been upstream activity. The cut in the number of exploration rigs and the associated services indicates the predicament the industry is going through.

The collapse in the price of crude oil has meant that companies are less inclined to spend on searching for new sources of crude oil. It makes matters worse when it is already costly to search for such oil in areas such as deepwater oil fields.

“As revenue comes down, staff are being redeployed from upstream to downstream. Staff will also be asked to multi-task but whether they can do that is another thing,” he says.

A pickup in hiring activity in the upstream segment is not expected as long as crude oil prices are anaemic.

Job cuts have taken place in that segment as a result of dimmed prospects in the industry.

With prices not expected to bounce up significantly, job prospects will remain dim. The general consensus is that crude oil prices are expected to remain sluggish for the short- to medium-term and that has necessitated the cut in expenditure and staff costs.

Trickle down effects

The oil and gas sector is not the only segment that has laid off workers as the pace of retrenchments seemed to have picked up pace.

Maybank Investment Bank says in a report that retrenchments rose sharply in the second quarter, up 56.7% year-on-year to 3,213 in the second quarter compared with a 14.4% increase to 2,789 in the first quarter of this year.

“Retrenchments in the construction sector went up as a number of major projects are nearing completion amid slow replenishment rate. The oil and gas sector’s retrenchment has been on the uptrend since the second half of 2014, coinciding with the plunge in crude oil price.

“At the same time, services industries like ‘finance, insurance, real & business services’ and ‘transport, storage & communications’ also showed uptrends,” it says.

Between January and July of this year, statistics indicate that 47% of retrenched workers are skilled, 40% semi-skilled and 13% unskilled.

It is the loss of skilled jobs, such as that by the oil and gas sector, that will have a big knock-on effect on the rest of the economy. The higher than average salaries that those workers once commanded will evaporate from the system and the absence of which will trickle down to the different sectors of the economy.

The slump in the industry has already been felt in the areas surrounding KL City Centre (KLCC), which is said to be the operational hub for oil and gas companies in Malaysia.

Hotel occupancy is down in Kuala Lumpur, especially those around KLCC. The Kuala Lumpur Shangri-la, which is the benchmark for hoteliers in the country, has announced a 10% drop in revenue in the second quarter of this year.

Apart from hotels, rental demand for houses surrounding the KLCC area has been acutely felt with the loss of jobs in the oil and gas industry.

“There has been a knee-jerk reaction especially around the KLCC area,” says a property consultant.

He says tenancies have been cancelled with oil and gas workers retrenched and for those who still have their jobs, their employers are housing them in different areas in the city.

“The numbers are down but it is not significant. There has, however, been a downgrade in the choice of accommodation,” he says.

The outlook though is not going to be rosy. With gross domestic product clocking a growth rate of 4.9% in the second quarter compared with growth of 5.6% in the first quarter, the slower growth rate will eventually bite into the prospects of employment.

“The labour market lags economic activity. There will be a lag of one or two quarters as companies won’t immediately lay off workers,” says an official.

By JAGDEV SINGH SIDHU

Fewer job vacancies due to wait-and-see attitude.

INDUSTRY experts say the shrinking number of job vacancies in the country is due to companies adopting a “wait and see” approach, putting on hold any expansion plans because of economic uncertainty..

Other worse-affected businesses which cannot afford to wait, they said, are downsizing, contributing to the rising number of retrenchments that totalled 6,547 until July this year..

While retrenchments are pressured to rise, what is worrisome is that the number of job vacancies has been on a decline over the past few years. The new openings for jobs have fallen from 1.62 million jobs in 2012 and 1.4 million in 2013 to only 1.07 million last year..

The biggest drop in vacancies was seen in the manufacturing sector, followed by the services sector..

Vacancies in the manufacturing sector fell from 598,890 in 2012 to 352,784 positions last year, a massive 45% drop in just three years..

Retrenchments in the sector was also the highest last year with 5,716 job cuts..

In the services sector, job vacancies went down from 369,983 in 2012 to 275,199 available positions in 2014, while retrenchments were up by an additional 1,151..

The construction sector also saw fewer job vacancies last year, with only 202,878 positions compared to 310,954 two years earlier..

Vacancies in the mining and quarrying sectors saw a marginal increase, up 19% from 2,180 to 2,605 jobs. But conditions have soured in the mining industry led by the slump in global crude oil prices..

The sector saw retrenchments surge almost four-fold from only 81 in 2012 to 318 job cuts last year..

Economist Yeah Kim Leng says the authorities must scrutinise data very carefully to find out to what extent the drop in job opportunities are due to the slowdown in investments and business expansions..

“The Government needs to look at the factors affecting business confidence and the measures to alleviate these factors..

“Given that the investment pipeline seems healthy, the declining number of vacancies is very surprising,” he says..

Yeah expects the situation to improve in the second half of next year, once the Chinese economy stabilises and commodity prices recover..

The Government is currently mulling the possibility of setting up an Employment Insurance Scheme to help retrenched workers in the country..

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib said early this month that the scheme, aimed at helping retrenched workers through temporary financial aid, reskilling and upskilling, was announced in Budget 2015 last year..

“In Malaysia, during the economic crisis of 1997-1998 and 2008-2009, we had a steady increase of unfair dismissal cases filed at the Industrial Relations Department.

“After those periods, the cases returned to a normal pace. With an economic downturn possibly occurring in the near future, we are getting worried that dismissal and retrenchment cases would go up tremendously,” he said..

The total job loss in Malaysia as a result of the 2008/09 global economic crisis was around 40,000, out of which around 60% were in the manufacturing sector..

This was less severe compared with the estimated total job loss of 84,000 during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis..

The unemployment problem in Malaysia during the global economic crisis was somewhat cushioned by the “more considerate” strategies taken by companies, which included cutting down their operating hours or days and reducing the salaries of their workers, so as to retain as many workers as they possibly could, instead of cutting headcount..

Weak business sentiment.

Although there has been an increase in investment approvals by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Yeah says, business sentiment needs to be monitored..

“We must monitor closely to see if they are going ahead with their investments or are pulling out,” he says..

Business conditions in Malaysia have deteriorated this year, with the Business Conditions Index by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research painting a grim outlook after the second quarter of the year..

The index fell to 95.4 points from 101 points in the previous quarter. A reading below 100 indicates pessimism..

It also found that the local and export sales outlook was bleak, and capacity utilisation rate had dipped further..

The survey, conducted each quarter to assist in assessing the short-term economic outlook, covers a sample of over 350 manufacturing businesses operating in 11 industries..

Areas explored include production level, new order bookings, sales performances, inventory build-up and new job openings..

In June, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said although Malaysia had more than 400,000 people looking for jobs at any given time, the Government had set a target that 75% of graduates would find employment within six months of graduation..

According to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics, in July this year, there were 459,900 Malaysians unemployed compared to 394,100 in July last year, a 16.7% increase..

The unemployment numbers have been on a rise every month since April this year, from 429,000 to 460,000 persons jobless in July..

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan says the situation is worrying as it means that many graduates would not be able to secure employment due to the shrinking number of vacancies..

“The ability to create middle-level management vacancies is a challenge now due to the economic condition..

“Nobody is sure what is going to happen, so companies have adopted a wait-and-see attitude..

“They are not making any new commitments. They are just maintaining what they have – if possible – or downsizing,” he says..

Shamsuddin says employers need the extra confidence from authorities in order to fix the situation..

“To stimulate employment, incentives have to be given directly to the sector. For example, there are incentives for companies that hire women who have been on a career break for over six months..

“The same can be done for companies that hire fresh graduates, for example, who have not secured jobs after a certain period,” he says..

This, he says, could be in the form of salary subsidies for the first few months..

By P. ARUNA.

Related posts:.

14 Aug 2015
Ringgit falls to a new low. PETALING JAYA: China’s central bank adjusted the yuan downwards for the second consecutive day, sending markets and currencies reeling. The ringgit continued its fall against the US dollar, …
29 Nov 2014
Shamsul lays out the bare truth on what the falling oil prices would mean for Petronas, the oil and gas (O&G) services industry and the federal government’s coffers: Capital expenditure (capex) on the O&G industry will be cut …
02 Dec 2014
Taking the cue from the plunging oil prices and a chilling warning issued by Petronas on declining revenues, oil and gas stocks on Bursa Malaysia also faced a rout which affected market sentiment as a whole. Yesterday …
22 Nov 2014
Malaysia’s iconic Twin Towers are seen in the background of the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas logo at a petrol station in Kuala Lumpur. DESPITE the geopolitical uncertainties in recent … To put the issue in perspective, the estimated budget revenue contribution from the oil and gas sector is around 6% of gross domestic product (GDP)in recent years while fuel subsidy costs the government around 1.7% of GDP in 2014. As such, the impact of lower budget …
01 Mar 2015
Malaysia’s iconic Twin Towers are seen in the background of the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas logo at a petrol station in Ku.. . Oil enters a new era of low prices: Opec vs US shale, impacts, perils as Petronas cuts …

Malaysia’s jobless rate rising; Penang full employment, CM Christmas messages


Penang CM opening Solar coPenang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng looking at the artist impression of  The Top Komtar roof top project together with Only World Group chairman and group CEO Dato Richard Koh during the ground breaking ceremony, October 29, 2013. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

Prospective job hunters unable to score employment elsewhere in the country should try their luck north.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced today a booming market in the northern state, so much so that employers are hard put to find sufficient qualified manpower to fill 20,000 vacancies critical to keep their entrprises running.

“There is a growing [sic] at the increased in unemployment rate in the country which is at 3.3 per cent in October 2013, an increase of 0.2 per cent from the 3.1 per cent in September this year,” Lim said, citing figures released by the Department of Statistics.

Official date from the departmen showed the number of unemployed in the country to total 462,300 people, an increase of 19,100 people from September to October.

In contrast, the number of people with jobs was cut by 98,500, leaving 13.7 million people employed out of a total population of 28 million.

“Despite the rise in unemployment rate in Malaysia, Penang continues to see not just full employment but a shortage of at least 20,000 workers,” he added in his Christmas message statement.

Lim attributed Penang’s high employment rate to its recent successes in securing several critical foreign direct investments (FDI).

He said his state government will be making several important announcements on these FDIs next month, with a promise that the details will fulfil Penang’s pro-growth and pro-jobs objectives that he boasted had become its policy since he took control of the state in 2008.

“Penang has neither been distracted nor detracted from seeking sustainable growth that provides jobs for Malaysians,” he said.

He proudly pointed out Penang’s annual healthy budget surpluses recorded since PR took over the state administration five years ago.

“The budget-based administration we implemented since 2008 had led to an increase in state assets by 50 per cent to RM1.2 billion and a reduction in state debt by a record 95 per cent,” Lim said.

As for investments, he said the state had recorded RM36.1 billion in investments between the years 2008 and 2012, which is almost double of the RM18.7 billion in investments between 2003 and 2007.

“This was achieved through fighting corruption, establishing integrity in public service and open competitive tenders,” he said.

He said the state is moving towards an outcome-based administration that focuses on getting value-for-money for government expenditure to lower maintenance costs while ensuring better quality in the public delivery of services.

He reassured Penangites who fall into the poor and the less-fortunate categories that they will not be forgotten, saying the state will continue to disburse cash allowances through its various social welfare programmes funded from its savings of public projects.

“We have also adopted the unconditional cash transfer model of topping up all families whose monthly household incomes are below the poverty line of RM 790 per month to make Penang free from poverty,” he said.

As part of his message for the season, he reiterated his administration’s pledge to roll out by February next year, a three-pronged housing policy, which has been a major issue in the land-strapped state.

To help put housing prices within the bank accounts of more residents, Lim said the state will compel private developers to build a fixed percentage of affordable housing priced below RM250,000 on the mainland, and below RM400,000 on the island.

The Air Putih assemblyman said the state investment arm, Penang Development Corporation, will also undertake to construct 20,000 units of public housing, to be priced below RM72,500 per unit.

There would also be a 10-year limit on reselling government-built housing, a five-year cap on homes built under the affordable housing scheme to prevent speculation.

Lastly, he said his administration will start imposing a 3 per cent tax on foreign property transactions and a 2 per cent levy on all properties that are resold within a three-year period.

“Just as Christmas is celebrated to give life to all, Penang can only prosper if everyone regardless of race or religion can enjoy the fruits of success together,” Lim said.

– Contributed by Opalyn Kok

Guan Eng’s Christmas message gives a glimpse of new ‘OUTCOME-BASED’ policies 

 

The Penang state government reaffirms CAT governance of competency, accountability and transparency that upgrades budget-based to outcome-based administration that ensures economic growth(pro-growth), employment opportunities(pro-jobs) and equitable justice(pro-poor). Penang has neither been distracted nor detracted from seeking sustainable growth that provides jobs for Malaysians.

There is growing concern at the increased unemployment rate in Malaysia announced by the Department of Statistics at 3.3% in October 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the 3.1% in September this year. October 2013 saw an increase of the unemployed by 19,100 persons to 462,300 persons, and there was a drop of employed persons by 98,500 to 13.70 million people.

Despite the rise in unemployment rate in Malaysia, Penang continues to see not just full employment but a shortage of at least 20,000 workers. Penang’s recent successes in securing several critical foreign direct investments, which will be followed by important announcements next month, will fulfil the pro-growth and pro-jobs objectives of the Penang PR state government.

The budget-based administration implemented by PR since 2008 has led to a healthy budget surplus every year, increase in state’s assets by 50% to RM 1.2 billion and a reduction in state debt by a record 95%. Again, investments was a record RM 36.1 billion for 5 years from 2008-2012, which is nearly double that compared to RM18.7 billion from 2003-7. This was achieved through fighting corruption, establishing integrity in public service and open competitive tenders.

Outcome-based administration

Moving towards outcome-based administration in the second term of government, focuses on getting value-for-money for government expenditure that will not only assist in reducing maintenance costs but also ensure better quality in the public delivery of services. This will go a long way towards achieving a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier Penang.

However the poor, the weak and those who need help are not forgotten. Penang is not only the first state to give cash contributions to ordinary citizens as part of the anti-corruption dividend but also the first state in Malaysian history to wipe out corruption. Adopting the unconditional cash transfer or UCT model of topping up all families whose monthly household incomes are below the poverty line of RM 790 per month, Penang is free from poverty.

First-time buyers and middle-income groups seeking to buy houses will benefit from the 3-prong housing democracy strategy of:-

  • Compelling private developers to build a fixed percentage of affordable housing(above RM72,500 but below RM250,000 on the mainland and below RM400,000 on the island) and public housing(below RM72,500);
  • Building 20,000 units of affordable housing through Penang Development Corporation(PDC); and
  • Implementing new housing rules after 1 February 2014 of a 10 year restrictions on resale on public housing and 5-year restriction on affordable housing, an approval fee of 3% on foreign transactions and a 2% approval fee of all sales made within 3 years from signing of the Sales & Purchase Agreement.

Just as Christmas is celebrated to give life to all, Penang can only prosper if everyone regardless of race or religion can enjoy the fruits of success together.

Penang is also proud to offer fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and expression. As the art and cultural capital of Malaysia, Penang celebrates the right to live with dignity in an inclusive society. As Nelson Mandela said, “.For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

– LIM GUAN ENG IS THE PENANG CHIEF MINISTER

Related post:

Penang to unveil stricter housing rules

 

Singapore downplaying university degrees; bus death triggers riot


Downplaying varsity degrees

With thousands of unemployed graduates, the government plans to cap campus enrolment.

IT is clearer now why the government had been discouraging Singaporeans from depending too much on university degrees.

The reason is that the pool of unemployed graduates is expanding in this wealthy city, despite a general shortage of workers.

Almost by the week, new cases are being reported about well-educated professionals struggling to find jobs or being retrenched.

The latest example: A 29-year-old accountancy and finance graduate wrote of his failed job hunt for two years, saying: “I am deeply worried.”

Posted on a website, www.transitioning.org, which helps unemployed professionals, his is one of many such tales, including the following:

> A 51-year-old jobless graduate who earned S$4,000 (RM10,133) per month said he might have to become a security guard. “On some nights, I would wake up breaking out in cold sweat and worrying about my future.”

> A 28-year-old arts graduate has been jobless for one year, surviving on her savings.

> A 35-year-old Malay graduate ex-teacher and single mum is jobless and going homeless soon.

> A jobless 47-year-old graduate had only one offer in seven months – for a S$6 (RM15)-an-hour temp position.

> A 35-year-old jobless graduate and mum of two kids surviving on her security guard husband’s salary and with less than S$10 (RM25.30) in the bank.

There are others, all of which make sad reading, pointing to a deterioration of life quality for many middle-class Singaporeans as bosses prefer to hire “cheap” foreign workers.

The situation could worsen in the near future with nearly 10,000 graduates coming on-stream from seven local universities every year, seeking work.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) recently, a further 18,000 Singaporeans were studying in foreign universities – half of them in Australia.

Unemployment among the highly educated has risen from 3.3% to 3.6% in the first half of 2013, worse than the national average of 2.1%.

Actually, Singapore is not unique. Countries in the developed West, too, suffer from rising graduate unemployment – with one exception.

Unlike these countries, densely populated Singapore openly promotes immigration. Last year it admitted another 27,000 “foreign talents”.

Unable to create enough meaningful jobs, the government is doing the next best thing – downsizing the Singaporean ambition for higher education.

Several Cabinet ministers recently began to talk down the importance of a university degree.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that paper qualification is not the only route to success.

And National Development Mi­­nister Khaw Boon Wan sparked controversy when he said: “You own a degree, but so what? You can’t eat it. If that cannot give you a good life, a good job, it is meaningless.”

Earlier, a Wikileaks document revealed a government decision to keep the local university population from increasing too much.

It quoted a senior Education Ministry official as saying that the government had no plan to encourage more students to go for university studies.

The campus enrolment rate would be capped at the current 20%-25% of total Singapore students. The labour market, she added, did not need more graduates.

That report came as a shock to Singaporeans who worship higher education as a god of success.

It led to speculation that the government is doing it to bring in foreign graduates en masse, since it is cheaper and faster than to produce them at home.

Given past records, this is unlikely to be the whole truth. The government has always given priority to developing Singaporeans to play an economic role.

To economists, however, there are wider fundamental reasons for it. The demise of the manufacturing era has significantly altered the job market.

Many of the newly created jobs today are in services that do not require formal four-year university training.

“A degree is nice to have, but we need something else,” is a regular employer comment.

For example, the opening of the two resorts required some graduates to be retrained as casino dealers and roulette operators.

Getting Singaporean parents to cut back on their children’s education is Mission Impossible. Many have suffered sacrifices to get them into a top university.

Social commentator Lucky Tan said any cutback would work against lower-income Singaporeans because the rich could easily send their kids abroad.

Not all are against the government being cautious.

“It is important to maintain a balanced, orderly labour market for the sake of social order,” said one writer.

Years ago former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke of the dangers of educating hordes of graduates and being unable to provide them jobs.

He noticed that many tended to end up roaming the streets and making violent revolution.

And later Lee remarked that Singaporeans were not getting smarter, only better educated.

From many indications, the economy may intervene in the debate.

A research expert said: “I expect employment, including of graduates, to start to slow over the next few years.”

As quality jobs decline, it may further reduce the arrival of foreign professionals, even if the government were to do nothing.

Contributed by Seah Chiang Nee  Insight Down South

Seah Chiang Nee is an international journalist of 40 years, many of them reporting on Asia. The views expressed are entirely his own.

Related:

27 May 2013

Singapore tackles jobs controversy

BBC News – Singapore tackles jobs controversy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24697611

Earlier this year, Singapore’s government released a policy paper that predicted the population in the city-state would grow by 30% to 6.9 million by 2030, with immigrants making up nearly half that figure.

Thousands of Singaporeans have protested against government plans to offset the nation’s declining birth rate by bringing in foreign workers.

In response the government has stepped in to promote Singaporean workers over foreign ones.

BBC News – Singapore tackles jobs controversy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24697611

Singapore bus death triggers riot

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/9493463/Fatal-crash-sparks-riots-in-Singapore
The BBC’s Ashleigh Nghie

Police in Singapore have made 27 arrests after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national.

Trouble started after the 33-year-old man was knocked down by a private bus in a district known as Little India.

About 400 people took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.

At least 16 people were hurt, most of them police officers, before the violence was brought under control.

Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said it was the first rioting in Singapore in more than 30 years.

He condemned the rioting as “intolerable, wanton violence”. “It is not the Singapore way,” he added.

Rioting in Singapore is punishable by up to seven years in prison plus caning.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that “whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour”.

“We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law,” he said in a statement.

Correspondents say the outbreak of public disorder is rare in strictly governed Singapore.

The hi-tech, wealthy city-state depends heavily on guest workers, with labourers from South Asia dominating sectors like construction.

Many congregate in Little India on Sundays to shop, drink and socialise.

Pictures and videos posted in social media showed two police cars being overturned by the mob. Several private vehicles were also damaged.

Police cars overturned in Singapore. 8 Dec 2013  
Rioters overturned two police cars
Arrested men in Little India. 8 Dec 2013  
Little India is home to Singapore’s South Asian workforce

m: “The protesters were overcome with rage”

Malaysian business associations protest against minimum wage for foreigners


PUTRAJAYA: Some 100 people, claiming to represent business associations, held a brief protest against the implementation of minimum wage for foreign workers in front of the Human Resources Ministry.

Min Wage Protest

A member of the steering committee reads out the group’s demands to the protesting crowd. — Picture by Zurairi AR

The group, called the Minimum Wages Implementation Steering Committee, demanded that the Government stick to the current wage level set by the embassies of the various countries whose citizens work here, and not hike it up to RM900 as is being done for local workers.

Committee member Goh Chin Siew said they want the ministry to re-examine the minimum wage requirements so that they reflect the standard of living in different areas across the country, and for the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries to weigh in on the impact of minimum wage on Malaysians.

“Malaysians will face hyperinflation due to minimum wage, and we will also see a lot of money flowing out of the country when foreign workers remit earnings home,” he said before the group handed a memorandum on the issue to the ministry.

The group said they were only against implementation of minimum wage for foreign workers and not against minimum wage for Malaysians.

During the protest, the group chanted various slogans outlining their support for minimum wage for locals but not foreign workers.

They also held up placards in English, Malay and Chinese, asking why the Government had not “listened to our voices” and demanding that Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam resign for allegedly failing to resolve the minimum wage issue.

Among the organisations that the group claimed to have secured as members are the Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall, Malay-sian Furniture Industry Council, KL-Kepong Business Recreation Club and Electrical Electronics Association Malaysia.

The Star: Recent Related Articles:

Jan 22 Effects of minimum wage to be addressed – Story | The Star Online
Jan 21 Employers complain of high levy and allowances, says Subra – Story | The Star Online

Related posts:
Minimum wage saga continues.. 
Malaysia’s minimum wage saga continues 
What’s minimum wage in Malaysia? 
Malaysia’s Minimum wage’s benefits and effects
Malaysia’s minimum wage, and its implications
Are Malaysian Employment Laws Challenging?

Related:

Minimum wage saga continues..


WE refer to the letters written by Samsuddin Bardan of the Malaysian Employers Federation (The Star, Sept 30), the Secretariat, National Wages Consultative Council (The Star, Oct 2) and Peter Raiappan (The Star, Oct 27) on the issue of minimum wage.

Come January, most of us will be concerned as to whether the minimum wages as previously announced by the Government will be enforced on our service industry e.g. security guards, waiters in hotels and restaurants or other workers in similar industries that require them to work 24 hours, including Sundays and public holidays.

In the case of security guards, it must be noted that most of these guards work 30 days a month as opposed to most regular employees who work 26 days.

The guards in particular will have to work the extra four days to claim the four days overtime payment (in addition to the daily four-hour overtime) to obtain that extra cash for a take-home salary of more than RM1,000 a month.

The security service employers are indeed in a dilemma.

Besides the overtime payment, the security companies will have to fork out additional expenditure such as the “post allowance” to the guards particularly for those assignments which are located in isolated places, transport allowance to guards for the use of their own transport, and not to mention the “attendance allowance” as an incentive to compel the guards to avoid unnecessary absenteeism. There are also cases where a “laundry allowance” is given to ensure that the guards are in their most presentable uniforms while on duty.

All this amounts to additional unavoidable costs to the security companies.

We, the security operators, are most concerned about the take-home salary of the guards and not just the basic salary of RM900 a month (less EPF and Socso deductions).

This is precisely why we encourage the security guards to work 12 hours (with four hours overtime payment daily) for them to earn the extra cash. Even the Nepalese guards that we employ work the 12 hour shift for the same reason.

We believe that even if we compel the guards to work for only eight hours a day, I am sure they will find some other part-time job to earn the extra cash during their time off.

This may not be healthy as they will most likely be too tired to effectively perform their duties as security guards in their regular assignments.

This may even result in them skipping work, which is worse.

Security guards are posted everywhere in the country. They are not stationed in one place like the factory workers.

Some people may not be too concerned about security but the role of these guards should not be taken for granted.

They are important in our society to prevent crime amidst the worrying level of crime in the country lately.

We are indeed in a dilemma whether we can continue to sustain our security service industry in the face of the above-mentioned escalating operating costs if the Government insists on proceeding with the minimum wage of RM900 requirement.

We therefore, urge the Government to exclude the security service industry and other similar industries from the implementation of this RM900 minimum wages scheme due to the extra costs to be incurred from the additional four hours of daily overtime work.

They also work during public holidays and Sundays.

These will incur extra double overtime which in return their take home pay is more than RM900.

We hope the Government to consider our appeal seriously to postpone the implementation of the new salary scheme which is due on Jan 1.

It is for the good of the security service industry and for the economy in general.

By DATUK RAHMAT ISMAIL Hon Life President (International) Asian Professional Security Association – The Star Nov  28, 2012

Related posts:

Are Malaysian Employment Laws Challenging?
What’s minimum wage in Malaysia?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,261 other followers

%d bloggers like this: