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Unemployed PMETs: The Political Art of Selective Quantification & Info-Sharing


No one can fail but be greatly impressed when a minister is in a position to tell the whole world the quantifiable numbers of jobs that his government is creating. Or already created.

A newly-minted 4G acting minister, in ‘acting’ his part, tells us “where available jobs are or will be created in coming years:

  • 30,000 IT professionals
  • 3,000 more jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in precision engineering
  • 1,000 rail engineers;
  • At least 1,200 professionals for finance, mostly in IT and compliance
  • 4,000 early childhood educators”

And, for good measure, there are “some 70,000 vacancies in National Jobs Bank” currently.

The screenshot below, taken on 25 Oct, 1925 hrs shows a grand total of 37,323 jobs. About half of what the minister claims. Integrity and accuracy are important. But, well, let’s not quibble over only a very small exaggeration, shall we? After all, the minister is just being true to his calling; exaggerating what makes him look good, minimizing or hiding the bad.


Oh yes, someone helpfully points out that among the claimed “70,000 vacancies” there’s one that is specifically reserved for Thai nationals. How many more vacancies could there be that are ‘reserved’ for non-Singaporeans – not so carelessly revealed but confidentially hidden?

Regardless, same day, different event, his 3G ministerial colleague also spills out another huge figure: “Singapore will need 30,000 more healthcare workers in five years”. WOW!
There are “ample good jobs for Singaporeans” indeed.


Isn’t it amazing that our ministers could pull numbers out of their hats – when and where they choose to do so?

Does that not mean that we have the systems in place to track numbers when and where we deem important or relevant enough?

Does this not beg the question, how many Singaporean PMETs who are unemployed and who remained unemployed for x months are there? But we have never once heard any minister, any minister at all ever mention the quantified number of unemployed Singaporean PMETs. Never!

Does that mean that they are not keeping track of the number? MOM reported last Feb that “four in 10 vacancies, were for PMET jobs”, so is 40% not significant enough to track?

Obviously not.

Actually, there is a rather simple way about it without getting PMETs to register with MOM. Wouldn’t the sudden and prolonged CPF contributions of members with above, say, S$3000/month salary be a good indication of an unemployed Singaporean PMET? In fact, not only the number of unemployed PMETs but also for how long their CPF accounts have not been credited.

So, are the statistics a state secret? Or they have been hidden, obfuscated, not discussed for political exigencies?

Whatever the true reason(s), Peter Drucker has this to say that is relevant to the ministers’ action or lack thereof.

Image result for drucker you cannot improve what you cannot measure

I think and believe that Mr Goh Keng Swee would have done things quite differently.

But to all my fellow unemployed PMETs with mortgages to service, children to feed, school fees to pay – and increased Medishield Life premiums to be auto-deducted from what’s left of our CPF money – let’s not complain, alright? After all, we gave 69.9% approval for the job that the government has done.

Every nation gets the government it deserves. Vote wisely the next time.

Law Kim Hwee






6 thoughts on “Unemployed PMETs: The Political Art of Selective Quantification & Info-Sharing

  1. Vote wisely the next time? Ain’t going to happen.

    Emigrate at the first opportunity should be the #1 goal for young Singaporeans. As long as you are motivated and work hard, you will succeed (wildly) in any first world country. You will have also given your children a brighter future. Take the risk. You will not look back.


    • Agree.

      But for those with lesser capabilities to succeed at emigration? How?


      • I wish I have an answer but I don’t. Singaporeans have been brainwashed for generations. They, including the political elites, actually believe in their own propaganda. The truth is, few westerners are immigrating to Singapore while local brain drain is extreme. This is in spite of Singapore being the ‘safest’, ‘wealthiest’, ‘cleanest’, and ‘most efficient’ country in the world!

        It is clear to any objective observer that the establishment is well entrenched in Singapore. There is no venue for change democratically. It will take an economic depression or an external factor (e.g. war, revolution) to effect change.

        That said, you can still do your part by being vocal. It is an uphill battle but if it gets enough traction perhaps something will change. For example, the few minor CPF changes came as a result of Roy’s activism. On the other hand, PWP was adopted despite popular disapproval. Your mileage may vary.

        Keep up your good work. But it is likely wasted effort. My apology.


  2. By the way no of jobs is not equal to no of vacancies. So you’re the dumb dumb one who thinks 37,323 jobs = 70,000 vacancies.


    • Hi!

      You have a point. I shall leave the mistake unedited.

      Regardless, I made a cursory look thro’ the JobsBank website under ‘Security & Investigation (167)’ category. Security jobs ad usually come with more than 1 vacancy, unlike for e.g. ‘Consulting’. My simple investigation showed up about 1-in-10 postings that has mulitple vacancies i.e. about 10%.

      Assuming that is representative of all the job categories, each ad with multiple vacancies must come with at least 10 vacancies (37000 x10% x 10 = 37000) + (37000 x 90%) = 70000 vacancies. That is 10% across ALL job categories. Is that a reasonable possibility of vacancies as claimed by the minister?

      Additionally, it is a normal practice of hirers/employers to advertise more vacancies than they actually need or wish to employ, for rather obvious reasons that you’d understand, given your apparent expertise in HR matters. For e.g., a co planning to hire 5 new hires for a particular position, say security officer, will likely advertise for >5, perhaps even double (or inform MOM of their higher number to increase chances of getting the actual number of passes they need).

      I note that you did not assert that the 70000 figure claimed by the minister is correct, actual or reasonable.

      I should also like to mention, sadly, that you label me as ‘the dumb dumb one’. This appears typical of the political culture that we all have come to accept and adopt. Making fun and taking potshots at pompous public figures is one thing, but doing that with and to fellow citizens who may be ignorant or mistaken, is that necessary?

      Do you talk like that with your colleagues, family members? Try not. Thanks for pointing out my error. I learn 2 things; jobs vs vacancies & to be more careful next time.

      Have an enjoyable Deepavali!

      Law Kim Hwee


  3. Pingback: Unemployed PMETs: The political art of selective quantification & info-sharing

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