Much has been said and written about how employees in Singapore after reaching a certain age find themselves out of work and out of the ability to find a new employer.
Not, however, among people I call friends or family.
I’ve a cousin, older than me by one year and with no more than A-levels. She didn’t stick with one employer but she stuck to the same industry. Now with decades under her belt, she commands so much respect and employability power that she’s got her bosses eating out of her hand.
She’s the one who drives a significant part of their business; she knows it and they know it and her job is as secure as tho she owns the business. And she’s not likely to be replaced by a computer, a robot or even a sweet young thing.
Next is the husband of our maid from yonks back (when local rather than foreign maids were the norm).
Her husband has no education, not bent on socialising or networking and yes, had switched employers a couple of times in his earlier working life and, at over 60, lost his job at a luxury cruiser builder because he thought himself too old to cross the Causeway for work every day.
“I’ll go as far as Jurong” was his reply when quizzed why he gave up a good steady job with an MNC.
And no, the moral of the story is that he didn’t end up as an elderly cleaner in a food court. Instead, he was barely out of his old job be4 new employers came knocking at his door.
Reason: he has one great skill. He can put varnish on wood in a way that makes the wood sing out its history in nuanced melody. If he hadn’t found employment, there is a steady stream among my friends who would love to hire him to help restore old wooden furniture, doors and frames that would keep him busy months on end. And their friends would continue to keep him busy..
My 3rd example is a childhood friend who is also on the wrong side of 50 with just O levels. Her first job was as secretary with an MNC in London but in the past 25 years she’s been back here and has never had any problem securing work as a senior support staff to highflying executives.
While she is no job-hopper she enjoys moving around in posh air conditoned highrise offices, to learn and upskill in her speciality. Her most recent job change came in November.
Offered an executive assistant’s position for an MNC’s newly relocated MD, she declined because she didn’t fancy going thru all that stress of settling in a new expat. But took instead a job to support other executive assistants in the same MNC’s regional desk on a contract.
Needless to say, she was so good at her job that when her contract was up, the MNC pinned her down with a permanent post, with full medical benefits and leave. And this despite her age and the rising unemployment situation in Singapore.
What do these 3 examples (I’ve plenty more) tell me? So long as you are good at your job and keep improving your set of skills in your field of expertise — or your field of expertise is a dying craft — then u will never be out of work, unless you choose not to work…
Those in charge of SPUR should chew on this.