Saturday, March 18, 2017

Structural Unemployment: "Plug-and-Play employees"

Many of the out of job PMETs I have read or come across are increasingly cynical of the many initiatives the government have introduced to find them jobs. They said it is mostly for show, to inform the public that the government is doing something.

To me this is just a very difficult nut to crack and the right thing to do is to keep trying to understand the problem better and more important afterward have the will to solve it. It is best if unemployed PMETs can find their own solutions but after many years of failure we know this is not realistic. If we cannot do much more with the unemployed, it is time to work on the employers. It is good to finally read from Lim Swee Say, and I quote him.

"Don't keep looking for Plug-and-Play kind of workers. Don't keep looking for workers that can fit your kind of jobs 100 percent."

Imagine if we have not curtailed the import of foreign talent. Spoiled employers will continue to insist on hiring only those who fit the job like a glove from the global market. Meanwhile our own displaced workers do not even get a chance to adapt or retrain.

I hope it is not too late for this former banker and others. I do not know what he used to do but I suspect he could be from the back room. A lot of those work have left the country and unless he went with the jobs, his experience is not in demand any more.

If only he could take 25 yeas off his 48 years eh? Employers must be educated and perhaps even be threatened with punitive measures to make the necessary transformation. There is too much ageism out there.

Businesses seeking their own narrow interests often create negative externalities which fall on society. They are always looking for free or cheap inputs. As they used to pollute our air and water until laws were passed to stop them, we might have to go down that road with labour as well. However this is not easy as businesses can always relocate. We would have to increase our value proposition to make it sufficient for them to stay and some industries we simply have to let go.

Related post:  Local business: Solving a problem maestro Yeo could not

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