Job seekers in Singapore willing to accept lower pay as COVID-19 pandemic hits hard

Photo from: pixabay.


Former manager Lau Disan was doing well before the pandemic hit, but she has had to take a 50 percent pay cut after switching from the ravaged retail industry to early childhood education.

Her experience is far from rare: Many job seekers are now willing to accept lower salaries because of the tight employment market and difficult economic conditions brought on by the coronavirus, experts said.

Ms Lau, 46, was a retail manager for 15 years in the jewelry trade and earned over $4,000 a month. Now, she is a trainee childcare educator at Kinderland earning half that.

But she said the pay cut was acceptable because she is still undergoing training under a Professional Conversion Program for pre-school teachers.

“I benefit from working half a day, and training to gain a professional diploma at the same time. It is a win-win for employees and employers.”

Nearly 50 per cent of 373 respondents in a poll conducted by employment portal FastJobs in late August also said they were open to taking positions offering less than their last salary.

It found that 39 per cent could stomach a drop of up to $200 a month, while 19 per cent were even open to accepting a fluctuation of $1,000 or more.

FastJobs general manager Lim Huishan said: “Generally, people are more flexible with salaries now as they recognize that it’s difficult to get a job and also that in trying out a new industry, taking less pay than their last (salary) may be necessary as their previous experience is not as relevant.

“There are also factors like age and personal commitments that affect their willingness to take lower pay in exchange for flexibility.”

Data from the platform showed that retail assistant was one of the roles with the greatest salary fluctuation in the period June to August, compared with the same period last year, with the median pay dropping $400.

Cashiers’ median salary dropped by $300, while sales executives saw a dip of $200.

But the median salary of drivers increased by $100 and that of patient service associates went up by $200.

Adecco country manager for Singapore Betul Genc noted that candidates for sales and marketing positions would accept an average pay reduction of 5 per cent while job seekers for white-collar roles in supply chain and engineering are open to a cut of 10 per cent in exchange for stability and security.

But other industries might actually see base salaries rise. Manufacturing firms, for example, had to attract local talent in the interim to replace workers from Malaysia when border restrictions kicked in.


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