Local PMETs looking for jobs get help — from UK firm Ingeus

Local PMETs looking for jobs get help — from UK firm Ingeus
UK-headquartered Ingeus on Monday (April 3) became the first of two foreign employment agencies to kick off its operations here under a two-year pilot initiative to improve the placement of local job-seekers into employment. Photo: Reuters
First of two foreign agencies to start operations here in a two-year pilot
Published: 12:00 PM, April 6, 2017
Updated: 11:08 PM, April 6, 2017

SINGAPORE — Ingeus, one of two foreign employment agencies roped in to help unemployed white-collar workers secure jobs, kicked off its operations here on Monday (April 3) under a pilot initiative to improve the placement of local jobseekers into employment.

With headquarters in the United Kingdom, the firm — located at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar — has already begun taking on jobseekers. But under this two-year pilot, it will not accept walk-in clients.

Laid-off white-collar jobseekers or those actively seeking work for at least three months, who approach Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) career centres or centres under the National Trades Union Congress’ e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), will be assigned randomly to Ingeus or a second overseas-based firm, which will start operating here at the end of the second quarter, WSG revealed on Thursday.

The Government’s unprecedented move to engage two foreign employment agencies was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say during the debate on his ministry’s budget last month. 

He said these overseas-based agencies — with established records working with the governments of countries such as Australia and the United States — were chosen “because of their business focus on active … rather than passive jobseekers, where the jobs are looking for the workers”.

In two previous pilot initiatives between 2011 and 2014, and 2014 and this year, WSG worked with four local employment agencies on job placements — with dismal results. 

The agencies’ placement rate for PMET (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) jobseekers came in at less than 50 per cent, short of the placement rate of about 60 per cent achieved at WSG and e2i centres.

Since local agencies typically derive their incomes from commissions filling vacancies for firms, they tend to be more “employer-centric”. This means they seek out “passive” jobseekers, who are mostly still employed and are not actively on the lookout for job opportunities, WSG said.

Local agencies also tend to be stronger in certain areas, but not in others: For instance, some agencies may be well-versed in career coaching but may not have a strong record in placing active jobseekers into work.

“Active” jobseekers, by contrast, are seeking work proactively, often requiring career coaching customised to their needs. Hence, the pilot with the two foreign agencies will see them focus on this group of jobseekers.

“It makes sense to pilot with overseas placement providers to see if we may achieve different results,” the statutory board added. 

The two firms were selected from a pool of five foreign ones that were shortlisted, and will be staffed by locals and have local know-how, added WSG. For instance, Ingeus will have a local team — 10-strong right now — with foreign consultants attached here only for a short period to impart proprietary knowledge to and train local staff.

Operations director Adrian Tan, 38, the former managing director at recruitment firm RecruitPlus, is at the helm of Ingeus’ local team.

Ingeus will have access to employers via career events held by WSG and e2i. Firms with openings may also contact the employment agency directly, WSG said. Ingeus can also nudge its clients to apply for openings listed on the National Jobs Bank. 

The two foreign agencies will operate on an outcome-based payment model, where they are paid for every jobseeker placed into employment. They have also agreed to handle, at a minimum, an undisclosed number of cases.

Founded in Australia in 1989 by Ms Therese Rein, the wife of former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, Ingeus has since expanded into various countries, including France and Canada.

In the area of career counselling, Ingeus helps jobseekers grasp employers’ requirements clearly and offers advice on how to square learning opportunities with their employment goals, its website said. Its global labour-market portal also gives its employees  “localised information” on the industries that are hiring.

According to the website, the firm’s Skillstream system, for instance, offers short-term training in sought-after skills, working with employers and sectors with suitable openings to determine the skills required, and then developing courses that equip clients with skills that meet those needs. 

The appointment of the overseas-based agencies — which complement the job-matching services offered by WSG and e2i  — will not change the way jobseekers seek help now.

While service delivery may differ, the agencies will offer services similar to those provided by WSG and e2i. 

The two foreign firms will provide customised career advisory and coaching sessions to assess jobseekers’ suitability for certain openings and industries, based on their skills and work experience, for example. 

Jobseekers will also be coached in preparing a resume, handling interviews and profiling themselves in a way that emphasises their strengths.