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Education, Singapore

Joanna Seow
Monday, May 26, 2014

Education, Singapore

Degree holders face greatest risk of losing jobs

The Straits Times | Joanna Seow | Monday, May 26, 2014

Madam Tan lost her job of 29 years when her business unit was cut earlier this year. She found a similar IT role at a new company within a month but took a huge pay cut.

SINGAPORE - In the last two years, degree holders here have found themselves the most vulnerable to losing their jobs, among all qualification groups.

Since 2011, they have also made up a higher proportion of residents made redundant than among all resident workers.

Experts suggested three reasons for this - jobs lost in restructuring tending to be held by graduates, greater demand for non-academic skills, and substitution by skilled foreign labour.

"As more graduates become available, it brings about more friction in the job-matching process," said UniSIM economist Randolph Tan.

"Many graduates think that getting a degree is the pinnacle of achievement, but what they don't realise is that the workplace demands much more of them."

Studies by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on retrenchment - the latest of which was released last month - revealed that among Singapore residents, degree-holders made up 39 per cent of workers who were laid off last year, but only 34 per cent of all employees. This was a slight improvement from 2012, when they comprised 45 per cent of laid-off workers and only 32 per cent of all employees.

In 2011, the figures were 33 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively.

In the last two years, the gap has become the widest among all the five qualification levels analysed by MOM, for the first time since 2008.

IT project manager Sylvia Tan, 51, lost her job of 29 years when her business unit was cut earlier this year due to restructuring.

"If I had been able to pick up new skills like cloud computing and analytics, maybe they would have retained me," the computer science graduate said.

"But they probably prefer to pay a younger person with less experience and newer skills."

She found a similar role at a new company within a month, but only because she took a pay cut of 43 per cent.

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