Workers less picky now, says survey

PICKY, inflexible, unrealistic. That view of the Singapore worker has been debunked by a study which suggests that the experience of the economic downturn has resulted in a clear shift in attitudes. 

Most appear to have come to grips with the changed economic environment they have to operate in, and have moderated expectations as a result. 

The survey of 2,451 employed and unemployed Singaporeans found that three in four of those who were jobless, were prepared to accept pay cuts in a new job. And seven in 10 had applied for jobs which required lower qualifications. 

Commissioned last year by the Manpower Ministry (MOM), it also showed that six in 10 agreed that firms may need to retrench to survive. 

Looking at the results, the “message on the need to stay nimble, adaptable and competitive has hit home”, the ministry said yesterday when releasing the survey findings. 

Although findings were based on sentiments last August, the realism should hold even as the economy recovers. 

Said National University of Singapore sociologist Ho Kong Chong, who conducted the survey: “There may be jobs when the economy improves, but there will still be structural shifts like outsourcing to deal with. Such flexibility in attitudes will continue to hold.” 

His survey also showed that when the chips were down, most of the unemployed were self-reliant: They cut back on expenses or dipped into savings. Only 2.1% turned to the Government and other financial aid programmes. 

But he said there were limits to how flexible workers were prepared to be, as some preferred not to work shifts or service jobs which required them to wait on customers. 

Also, a majority of the jobless feared competition from lower-paid foreign workers. 

A spokesman for the Workforce Development Agency – set up to help Singaporeans find and keep jobs – said the change in attitude shown in the survey will make for “a more resilient and adaptable Singapore workforce.”,  

Added NTUC deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How last night: “Singapore workers are practical people. They will adjust when they understand the situation.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network 

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.

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