Though the recession is over and the economy appears to be picking up, Singapore university graduates still find themselves at the losing end in an employer’s job market flooded with cheap and readily available foreigners.
According to revised figures from the Manpower Ministry, more of them are without jobs and taking longer to land a job. The number of unemployed graduates increase from 1,600 to 4700. Of those who are employed, a significant portion are on contract jobs.
Graduates also form more than one third of workers who are either retrenched or unemployed. The re-empolyment rates for graduates remains the lowest at 44.4 per cent.
PAP MP Josephine Teo seemed to attribute the blame to graduates during an interview with the state media when she said that “part of the reason is that they often tend to seek jobs that pay close to what they used to earn.”
The same report revealed that more residents are taking more six months to get a job. Known technically as the long-term unemployed, their numbers have ballooned from 9,600 last year to 18,400 this year.
For some strange reasons, MOM prefers to lump citizens and PRs together in the same category as “residents”. The exact figures for the unemployment rates among Singapore citizens remain a mystery.
The starting pay for graduates has remained more or less the same for the last few years while cost of living has increased, especially that of public housing.
Burdened with a hefty study loan, graduates are encountering difficulties supporting themselves and families with their meager salaries let alone start a family of their own which may account for the declining birth rates among locals.
Instead of doing more to help them, the ruling party chose to open the flood gates to allow the influx of mid-level and semi-skilled professionals into Singapore to compete with local graduates directly for jobs.
There are no independent trade unions in Singapore to represent the interests of Singapore workers. The largest trade union is NTUC, a quasi-government organization which is headed by a PAP minister.
Neither is there a free media for workers to air their grievance. The Singapore media is tightly controlled by the ruling party via the Singapore Press Holdings, headed by a former PAP minister.