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‘Don’t give up, have an open mindset’: One mid-career worker on his late career change amid pandemic

SINGAPORE — When Mr Kasmuri Kassim quit his job in facilities management late last year to take care of his ailing father, just months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, little did he realise he was headed for a change in his career path.

Kasmuri Kassim, a mid-career worker under the Mid-Career Pathways programme, photographed at his workplace on Nov 5, 2020.

Kasmuri Kassim, a mid-career worker under the Mid-Career Pathways programme, photographed at his workplace on Nov 5, 2020.

  • Mr Kasmuri Kassim was able to switch careers from facilities management to manufacturing thanks to the Mid-Career Pathways Programme
  • He is among more than 100 workers who have benefitted from the programme
  • Mr Kasmuri now hopes to work hard in his new firm and be employed full-time at the end of his attachment

 

SINGAPORE — When Mr Kasmuri Kassim quit his job in facilities management late last year to take care of his ailing father, just months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, little did he realise he was headed for a change in his career path.

Late last month, the 54-year-old landed an attachment at a manufacturing firm under a government initiative to help mid-career individuals with traineeships and training opportunities.

He is one of more than 100 workers who are now part of the Mid-Career Pathways programme, according to figures provided by Workforce Singapore (WSG).

About one quarter are mature workers such as Mr Kasmuri.

As of Oct 31, more than 2,100 host organisations were offering mid-career jobseekers about 10,600 company attachment opportunities in diverse roles such as investment banking analyst, acoustic engineer and relationship consultant, among others.

“Taking that first step into unfamiliar territory, especially for mature mid-career individuals is not easy,” said WSG. “We would like to encourage more mid-career individuals to come on board the programme.”

‘DOWN AND PRESSURISED’ LOOKING FOR A JOB

Mr Kasmuri left his job as a facilities management executive at a private school in September last year to take care of his father, who was suffering from diabetes and a heart condition.

When his father died later that month, Mr Kasmuri was “down and pressurised”, he told TODAY in an interview. However, he had to search for a new job to make ends meet.

Despite having been in facilities management for close to 30 years, Mr Kasmuri was unable to secure a job offer in the coming months despite about 15 job applications.

He had planned to press on with his job search, but that was when the Covid-19 pandemic began at the start of this year.

This halted his hopes of re-entering the facilities management industry, as the implementation of working from home under Covid-19 restrictions meant there were fewer people returning to offices, and thus there were fewer jobs requiring his skills.

“I did not know what was going on and what to do in the next step,” said Mr Kasmuri.

As the pandemic worsened, Mr Kasmuri had to take up menial jobs such as home moving and packing services to make ends meet.

He did this for the first few months of the pandemic before he took up an additional part-time role in July at manufacturing company 3D Metalforge, which specialises in 3D printing.

A NEW CAREER IN 3D PRINTING

He started out in menial roles, such as cleaning and maintenance of equipment. It was in October when he saw that 3D Metalforge had an opening under the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme.

He applied for the role of operations technician using the MyCareersFuture portal without telling the company to see if he stood a chance.

“He has a positive attitude and he’s hardworking,” said 3D Metalforge’s programme manager, Ms Lily Ho on why Mr Kasmuri was eventually hired. “He doesn't mind learning from scratch and he takes instructions well.”

Instead of carrying out basic ad hoc tasks as he used to, Mr Kasmuri is now training to operate 3D printers, how to sandblast printed parts and will soon learn about metal printing.

“The technology behind the machinery makes me want to learn more about the so-called advancements and (evolution) of manufacturing,” he said.

In his new role, he earns about 60 per cent more than when he started working part-time in other roles, and about 30 per cent more than when he was a part-timer with the company.

However, his pay is still about 50 per cent short of what he used to earn in his previous full time role, but he does not mind.

“Currently I have to accept it, because of Covid-19, we do not know when this will end.”

He hopes that at the end of his nine-month stint to be converted to a full-time staff member.

“For those who are hard working, willing to learn and have good working attitudes, we have every intention to hire them full time when the opportunity arises,” said Ms Ho.

She added that the company plans to hire four more mid-career workers and is waiting to receive more applications.

Companies under the programme have 80 per cent of the training allowance subsidised by the Government, which Ms Ho said “has definitely helped the company from the financial standpoint”.

Asked if he will one day return to facilities management, Mr Kasmuri remains sceptical.

“I would like to go back to the industry I am familiar with,” he said. “But nowadays facilities (management) is more about digitalisation now, one man in the building can (oversee) all the computer systems.”

“(The programme) helped me to change my character and life direction, to persevere, not give up and have an open mindset,” he added.

Related topics

job manufacturing facility management

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