With the opening of Sengkang General and Community hospitals next year – and five new polyclinics over the next three years – 9,000 more people will be needed, remarked Senior Minister of State for Health, Amy Khor.

Half of those required would be professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). She added that those older mid-career people who lack experience in the healthcare field will also have jobs available to them.

New vacancies can accommodate long-term unemployed adults

Speaking to The Straits Times, Dr Khor said that the Singapore government views the healthcare industry as a key avenue in targeting the rise in long-term unemployment. This is particularly so for PMETs and older people.

The slow job market hit PMETs, who represent half the workforce, the hardest. They made up two-thirds of those unable to locate a job within six months of becoming jobless. In 2016, 17,000 people were undergoing long-term unemployment – a 36% increase from 12,700 in the previous year.

Older people – making up over two-thirds of the unemployed group – go through a tougher time in finding a job placement. Making matters worse, thousands of unemployed PMETs are aged 40 and older.

“We're particularly interested in the 40-plus (age group) simply because they have a harder time making a career switch. We want to make the transition a little easier,” said Dr Khor.

Despite all this, fresh graduates should not fret that mid-career people are robbing them of jobs up. She elaborated, “Even with improved technology and workflow processes, the overall numbers are still positive.”

Senior Minister of State for Health, Amy Khor said that professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) would be required to fill about 4,500 of the new vacancies. Photo credit: The Straits Times
Senior Minister of State for Health, Amy Khor said that professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) would be required to fill about 4,500 of the new vacancies. Photo credit: The Straits Times

Employers supporting the new job seekers will be rewarded, asserts Minister

The myriad of job vacancies sprouting of late can be attributed back to the growing ageing population in the country. Although the bulk of jobs will be in nursing, others include therapists, care coordinators and centre managers.

For those wanting to make the change to healthcare, Dr Khor confessed that the long training required is a downside. For example, nurses spend a couple of years studying and two more years training at work.

Cushioning the blow, the Professional Conversion Programme provides an allowance of up to SGD2,420 monthly – depending on the job nature and past work experience – to aid workers make a mid-career switch. On top of that, the course fee, which could top SGD40,000, will be subsidised or fully paid for.

Dr Khor said that this would mean a lower pay compared to their last-drawn salary as it would not be fair to pay them a salary equivalent to someone working full-time. The advantage of this situation is the stable job opportunity in a growing industry where their skills will consistently be in demand in time to come. In keeping with this, Dr Khor reported that the number of those converting to nursing jobs rose from 21 annually for the last three years to 34 in April 2017.

Besides all this, she pledged to collaborate with employers on funding support for these job seekers. Employers could be incentivised up to SGD4,000 for six months if they offer workers on-the-job training. Taking nursing for instance, an employer who hires a registered nurse with an on-the-job training for two years will receive SGD16,000. MIMS

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