Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMETs)

Quote: "Some say PMET has become the catch-all term to describe the "middle class" of Singapore workers". I suppose PMETs refers to those who are tertiary educated with, say a Poly diploma or a Uni degree.

In the days of Singapore U (SU) and Nanyang U (NU), many NU students opted to start their own businesses as their starting pay were generally lower than SU graduates and promotions opportunities favoured SU graduates.

Another group that was more entrepreneurial were the Poly graduates.

Looking at Singapore's economic dynamics, early efforts were made to provide jobs for the polulation in general in the 60s/70s (low skills, labour intensive). By the 80s/90s, the Unis were churning out graduates to run and manage MNCs, manufacturing outfits and larger local companies (management skills, higher value-added industries) - a generation of managers were moulded and produced.

By late 90s and the turn of the century, Singapore was faced with competition from cheaper and massive labour supply from neighbouring countries including India and China. Coupled with this, globalisation and WTO-centric agreements, make factors of production, namely labour, more mobile and fluid.

Our generation of PMETs has learned to accept monthly wages as a norm and few ventured entrepreneurialy as the comfort of being managers overwhelmed the need to take risks and chances to run their own businesses.

The economic fibres meshed over the years was a comfortable monthly salary; sufficient to pay for a home, a car, two kids, a maid, holidays at year end, a family of four - luckier were those with dual income if both spouses work.

With globalisation and the fluidity of labour (force) flow and the relocating of manufacturing industries overseas to lower cost centres, PMETs were suddenly slap with the reality of job losses. Years of experiences and loyalty was not enough to forestall replacement by cheaper, younger and faster workers as the same job can be done cheaper and learnt faster. PMETs simply did not have a fighting chance against the younger, faster and cheaper replacements.

Apart from this, the mega mergers of industries also decimate jobs. A page back in time reminisced Singapore with ten banks but with megers, we have only three large ones; there used to be about thirty stockbroking companies, now we have under ten.

Besides, the younger are willing to work longer working hours for the same pay, especially if they are foreigners. Not that Singaporeans are any less hard working but if they are foreigners working here, chances are they have lesser friends and relatives around to demand their attention. Work, work and more work also means more (overtime) pay.

The years of comfort and sheltered environment evaporates into thin air - the reality is that if you are 35-45 years old, or older, and if you loss your job, the chances of you finding a same, or fairly similar, job with same salary is almost zero.

Even if you are willing to retrain, upgrade or seek newer and relevant skills, the chances of you finding employment with the same pay is also almost zero. Age is a tall obstacle but not fatal! The permutation of solution is not linear. Think out of the box - challenging times need challenging solutions.

So what can PMETs do? PMETs supposedly consisted of people who are tertiary educated; have they lost all the 'grey matter' above their shoulders and between their ears? I know of afew solutions but lets start with you - solutions lie with the problems. If nobody is willing to come forward with a solution, or is waiting for the next person to suggest, then its a checkmate and PMETs will fade into history as managers of a past era.

Come on, wake up - God help those who help themselves. Even God wants the solutions to start from you. Get organised, get together, find the solution. However difficult and chaotic a/the generation is going through, a leader is born to lead; you could be the one.

In the article, circa August 2010, by Spring Singapore, encouraging PMETs to take up Entrepreneurship Training "Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) have been the hardest hit in the downturn, forming some 40% of total retrenchment between January and March last year". If there are 30,000 unemployed PMETs and each contribute one possibility (solution), you will have 30,000!

I write to motivate and encourage all to see the 'light at the end of the tunnel' and to stop the blame game. More importantly, look on the positive side of life and give yourself a chance to start; if not from where you last stopped, then a new start. 

1 comment:

Gilbert Goh said...

I agreed with your article.

PMETs may be too comfortable with a stable income all this while and when thay are jobless, their whole world went spinning.

They lost direction and start to panic.

I see the situation will worsen as more foreigners come in to "steal" our jobs.