Discouraged and jobless

While reading the Singapore Labour Force 2010 Report (released on 31 Jan 2011), the following table caught my attention.

In particular, the reason "discouraged" caused me to raise an eyebrow. People are not working because they feel discouraged? That sounded like a poor excuse!

However, information in the other tables changed the way I felt. About 90% of the people who felt "discouraged" are over 40 years of age, and about 85% do not have tertiary education.

Sadly, the common jobs available to people of that age group of relatively lower-education are: security guards, cashier at NTUC and cleaners are food courts/toilets. But the salary is low (there is no minimum wage level) and they have to compete with young foreigners for such jobs. There's anything "wrong" with any of these jobs except that it's very hard work for very little pay.

In December, I shared with you that my mother was forced to resign. Thankfully, she was hired by a new company to work in the same location, with reduced responsibilities - but not without having to accept a huge pay cut. She is grateful that she still has a job - a one that she enjoys. I know she won't want to work as a cashier or cleaner and I wouldn't want her to slog away with a mop or rag in a coffee shop or public toilet.

One other point to note from the statistics: more men than women feel "discouraged". I could jump to the quick (and perhaps unfair) conclusion that men tend to be more negative than women but it's likely that men put extra pressure on themselves because they feel they're supposed to be the breadwinner (most men in that generation are brought up to think that way) and people tend to look down on men who can't get jobs than women who can't get jobs. (I think people look down on unmarried women more than unemployed women). I just got "cursed" by my grandmother during the lunar new year gathering. She said people who choose to stay at home instead of work are more likely to get cancer!

Being turned down by potential employers repeated can hurt one's self-esteem and confidence. Choosing not to work and being cut off from the working world can also hurt one's self-confidence. A lady who asked me for my help with getting around the MRT stations shared with me that she has not been working for many years and she feels less confident even with simple things such as getting around town.

As for me, after not working for a year and earning significantly less over the past 12 months, I have to admit that I feel extremely under-valued. Besides, I feel that my knowledge, skills and experience gained in my previous jobs should be put to good use. These feelings, together with my not wanting my mum to have to work as a cleaner or cashier, have driven me to start looking for a job. It would be ridiculous for my mother to be working hard while her graduate daughter is sitting at home blogging!

Will I be one of those statistics under "discouraged" in the report next year? Anyone who has searched for jobs before would know that it's easy to get discouraged when your resume doesn't get picked out, when you're not shortlisted, when you get an offer but the salary is too low, etc. There's no doubt that I'll feel discouraged at times during my job search but I don't think I would cite being discouraged as a reason for not continuing to find a job.


Soft Release said...

Not sure that single women are frowned upon or looked down on. Men looked at these AVAILABLE women as being more highly prized.

Anonymous said...

hmmm..if u have a family to feed and u are jobless, that will b a different story....you will take any jobs that come along...

Anonymous said...

The more interesting category is "others" - around 12,000 people.
Just wonder what it means, perhaps like :- "I am too busy wanking to look for a job"?

Anonymous said...

To feel discouraged is quite a normal psychological or emotional state. But to continue to be so for any prolonged period is at the detriment of one's well-being. And ultimately the society as a whole.

Yes to be continually discouraged and not have the courage to pick oneself up and start anew is a clear sign of mental and emotional weakness. Many unfortunately suffer from this inherent human failing.

But the mother of all excuses for experiencing discouragement is plain laziness! There are aplenty too of this kind. Do not conclude that laziness equates with lack of intelligence. Coz they are quick to think out all manner of blame on everyone and everything else for their woeful state.

silli cat

Yu-Kym said...

Soft release, it's human nature to want what somebody else has. If a woman is single for many years, won't you be worried that it's because there's something wrong with her?

Anon, one more criteria to add to your list: if the person doesn't have enough savings.

Anon, YES! Many people in that group are also busy playing online games and watching free movies online.

silli cat, I think he inherent failing is partly caused by our own inherent need to judge others - and therefore judging ourselves through our own eyes, we can be very harsh too. The 12,000 people in the "others" group would include the lazy too!

Anonymous said...

Yes Yu-Kym,

Judging others ourselves through our own eyes can be very harsh I agree. Dont forget that others judge us all the time too. They may even do so without any basis.

It also cant be help that right or wrong, we form strong opinions based on our past experiences or fears too. lol

But there are a few that get their judgements mostly right than wrong. Thinking back the conduct of my life in the past, I want to believe I fall in this right category most of the time.

silli cat

Yu-Kym said...

It's only natural to form opinions. Anyone who claims not to pass judgement is either a retard or a liar.

David said...


Having been without work several times I can understand how a prolonged job search can be discouraging.

A recent problem came to light here when job-ads stated that only currently employed or people uinemployed no more than 3 months apply for an available opening.

Many people here have been out of work for more than 1 year.

Starting over is difficult. Quiting on life however is, while at first appears the easy way, giving up on a job quest will result in long term damage. Not only to ones income, but to ones ability to face challenges.

Accepting failure is a character flaw of a high degree.

Learning lessons from failure and moving forward, is the mark of the mature invidual.


The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.

~Author Unknown

Yu-Kym said...

It must be discouraging to see ads with that criteria. I'm sure my resume must have gotten deleted simply because I fall under that category.

David said...


Have you applied for work in the United States?


Anonymous said...

No Yu-Kym,

I do not think so. At least not in the current Singapore context where jobs are available for the qualified.

If you have the qualification and some working experience and provided you impress during the interview, you would have no trouble getting a job during this period of Singapore's employment situation.

You just need to ensure that when the employer glances through the many applications, yours catches his/her eye.

As an employer myself, I do not have time to read every single application, even if they have already been shorlisted for me. I glance through the shortlisted ones and pick what I think are the really worthwhile ones to call for interview.

It's during the interview that really counts. Fengshui does not help either lol

Good luck to you in your job hunting. And dont ever get discouraged. Reading your blogs, I am confident you do not belong to the born loser or the alwaz out of luck, sad, God ought to be kinda to them category. keke

silli cat