Since she was asked to leave her Human Resources job in June last year, Madam Nai Ling Na has been searching for a full-time job, but has had little success.
Having two sons aged eight and 11 to look after, the 48-year-old has had to explore contract work.
“In order to feed the family, I’ve to keep my options open. I would prefer a permanent position, but it’s not easy to come by. I usually don’t hear back from them after sending in my application,” said Mdm Nai.
But a new peer support programme for Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) aged 40 and above has given her fresh hope.
The Career Activation Programme — a tie-up between the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and local social enterprise GioCareers — arranges monthly meet-ups between unemployed mature PMEs and volunteers who have been trained as life coaches.
During the sessions, these volunteers, who are also PMEs, share their own ups and downs in their careers, and offer counselling and career coaching to those in need.
Two pilot sessions have been conducted since last month, with 19 unemployed mature PMEs taking part.
A recent labour market report released by the Manpower Ministry showed that close to three in four workers retrenched in the first quarter of this year were professionals, managers, executives and technicians, compared with one in two last year. Over half did not find new jobs within six months.
Of the 805 PMEs the NTUC U PME Centre assisted between last April and this June, about 69 per cent were aged 40 and above. Over half (56 per cent) had approached the centre for job placement services. And of these, 56 per cent were unemployed.
NTUC-PME Unit director Patrick Tay said mature PMEs have pointed out there is “a lack of community support, to help them reduce stress from social isolation (and) to help them benefit from a larger social network”. He added: “We realised that it takes more than just career advice to help them overcome their difficulties.”
Mr Kelvin Kwek, who is one of the volunteers for the Career Activation Programme, said: “There are things that you are facing at work or while you’re in between jobs that you’d rather not share with your spouse, so that you don’t get them worried … This is a very good channel to get them to talk and to let them know ‘You’re not alone. Let’s walk together’.”
Another volunteer, Mr Casey Poon, 49, said he shared his life story of going from being depressed and nearly bankrupt to becoming a training consultant at the age of 40.
Mdm Nai said hearing his story made her feel that being strong and determined despite challenges was something she could learn. Mr Poon also encouraged her to attend career fairs and courses to learn new skills, she added.
news source & image credits: todayonline.com