Highly qualified risk manager who earns $11K replaced by FT
Posted by temasektimes on October 13, 2012
Since stepping off the Scoot plane three weeks ago, I have being frantically catching up with readers who have emailed me while I was still in Sydney visiting my family.
I must thanked them for waiting patiently as some of them have emailed me at least two months ago and wanted to speak with me about their jobless situation.
However, after meeting up with them, my heart sunk as the same old complaint cropped up frequently – our local executives are been replaced by foreigners at the work place.
I met up with John a few days ago – my second appointment with him after seeing him for the first time about four months ago in June.
John was a classic case of a highly educated local PMET who was caught out by the lax foreign talent policy here.
Earning close to $11,000 just five months ago, he came and saw me the second time at my office a few days ago and during this time he appeared desperate and frail.
He is married, have a young child and in his early forties. His boyish good looks could have charm a few girls’ hearts if he is still single.
It was fortunate that he managed to pay up his house mortgage several years ago and do not have to worry about having a roof over his family’s head when he is still jobless.
I was nevertheless aghast how four months of unemployment could do to the confidence and esteem of a highly educated PMET.
When I saw him for the first time four months ago at my office, he appeared calm and composed and we could even laughed and joked during the session.
He was just retrenched and armed with a severance package, he has some financial back-up as he went about to look for a job.
The second appointment was a disturbing and cold one – a chilling sign that unemployment has bit hard into the psyche of one of our brightest and fittest.
Educated in the best local university here and burnt through the meritocratic furnace of our system, John is now reduced to a mixed bag of uncertainty and disappointment – betrayed by the very ones who told us that they will take care of the people if we excel in our stringent educational system and be diligent in our work.
During the second session, we remained silent occasionally for a full twenty awkward seconds as I do not want to interrupt his train of thoughts as he tried to come to terms with his emotions.
I always find that our male jobless professionals are rather stoic in how they respond to their jobless circumstances compared to our women counterparts who tend to be a bit more emotional and fiery.
John was a risk manager for all of his career life so far – a skill he told me is still very niche and in high demand.
He is also the headhunter’s favourite darling as their high pay package means that the commission reward is also very lucrative.
Most risk managers are paid handsomely – between $8,000 to $10,000 on average less bonuses.
However, due to the lax foreign talent policy, many risk managers from the US and Australia have recently came over and John was squeezed out of the lucrative career.
Someone from the HQ in Japan came and replaced him five months ago and he left the Japanese bank with some severance package and a worried look.
Though he has gone for some interviews, he couldn’t land any offer yet as most of his interview competitors were from overseas – US, Australia and Europe.
As his interviewers are also foreigners, John felt that there may be some bias here.
“I couldn’t speak as well as those foreigners and this probably is my biggest handicap during an interview,” John lamented to me in one of his rare show of displeasure at his jobless situation.
John is also one of the rare few PMETs whom I have met who only reproached himself for his unemployment situation and I have never hear him blame anyone for his plight – not even the easy-target government.
Mild-mannered and rather shy in his demeanor, John will definitely lose out to a more vocal foreigner from the US or Australia during a job interview – who are known to have the gift of the gab.
For us to compete in the global job market, Singaporeans must learn to speak better English and express themselves more at the work place.
Trained to be followers from young and patted on the head approvingly by both teachers and parents for not speaking out against authorities, Singaporeans tend to lose out a lot when it comes to verbal articulation.
I have spoken to many Aussies while staying in Sydney the past few years and found them to be fluent in their spoken language as it’s their native language.
Even the uneducated road sweeper spoke better English than me!
I told John maybe he can consider joining a Tostmaster programme as they teach people how to speak properly in front of an audience.
However, after meeting up with John and a few other professionals who were squeezed out of the global job market by foreign talents here, I must add that there is little protection from the system to ensure that the local professionals have a place in our own country.
It’s like you have a plot of land to till and for a long time you could grow potatoes and wheat without fear that you will go hungry – so long you work hard to till the land and fertilise the ground.
You realise later that your village chief decides to let in more people from other villages to share your plot of land and you could do little to protect yourself and family from being squeezed out of your own plot.
Now, you have less potatoes to harvest as the plot of land is being shared by many other strangers let in by the village chief and they all also have to eat.
You try to be kindhearted and let them have some space to grow their potatoes but soon you realise that the whole plot is being taken over by strangers leaving you hungry and angry.
The worse is you can’t do anything about the loss of land and potatoes as that means you are branded as unwelcoming and xenophobic by your village chief who have always asked you to love and accept them.
You begin to look at other villages to move to as you need to survive and take care of your own family members.
This is a simple analogy of what is happening to us at the work place now.
To make matters worse, just the other evening, I was told that a local employer whom I have some contact with, decided to hire a foreigner over one of my jobless referral – over cost matter.
Naturally, my local jobless client was devastated and inconsolable when I told her about the bad news.
Nevertheless, the crucial question remains: What can Singaporeans do to save their jobs from being snatched away by foreign talents?
Our Prime Minister has warned us that he will be gunning for a 6-million-population Singapore.
How many local Singaporeans will lose their jobs then in order to please our government’s wish?
You can’t let in 800,000 more foreigners without providing them with good jobs and housing facilities.
Moreover, is a 6-million-population the ultimate wish of our own citizens?
The next few years will be tough for Singaporeans as they have to stay on top to retain their jobs or else they will be replaced by 800,000 more foreigners flooding the tiny red dot looking for work.
Let’s hope that our government can come to their senses and stop the country from sinking into chaos and oblivion.
* Gilbert Goh is the founder of transitioning.org. It is a non-profit society specially set up to cater to the emotional needs of the unemployed Singaporeans.