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Bouncing Back From Retrenchment: How These S’poreans Did it

Facing job loss is never easy, but you can and you will overcome this. Today we reflect on the lessons from people who were once in the same boat as you were; find out how they turned their lives around and made it for the better.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about an uncertain and sobering time for many of us.

According to a Department of Statistics survey, close to three in 10 companies in the services sector said they are likely to reduce their headcount due to the gloomy business outlook, with 60% predicting less favourable business conditions in the coming months.

The consequences of such a trying time can be disheartening; there are people out there who are losing their jobs.

Maybe you’ve lost your job too, or you know someone who is going through the painful effects of job loss.

Today, we explore stories of people who have experienced retrenchment and job loss in one way or another.

They share important lessons that they’ve learnt from their experiences and how you can take a step forward to bounce back from this temporary setback.

For more tips on how we can manage our emotions and mental well-being during these difficult times, visit

Use this time to recuperate and recharge

Ken Tan, a father of two primary school-going children, lost his job weeks before COVID-19 hit Singapore.

“I wanted to ease off from a hectic routine that had seen me put in almost 60-hour workweeks (including night conference calls, and weekends) for several years. Now, I could fully recharge so that I will be ready for the next chapter, both physically and mentally.

This means exercising more regularly and catching up on recreational activities that I didn’t have time for, such as reading, assembling plastic model kits, and solo motorcycle rides.”

The harmful effects of not taking a break have been proven time and time again by science.

Imagine a marathoner who doesn’t stop running or a car that drives at race speeds non-stop- they’re both bound to break down sooner rather than later.

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A USC and MIT study showed that our brains aren’t idle when we take breaks — they are actually working hard to process our memories and help us make sense of what we have experienced.

You could take this time to engage in a helpful bit of self-reflection, and see how you may be able to improve for the future.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your problems

Dr John Lim, President of The Singapore Counselling Centre, has helped many PMETs get back on their feet over the years through counselling

“There is an average increase of 30% year-on-year of older Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) seeking counselling due to retrenchment.

Remind yourself that one setback does not mean that you are doomed to be at rock bottom for the rest of your life. Dealing positively with your emotions lays the foundation for personal growth.

Just remember that you can and will get out of this cycle of emotions. If you feel very overwhelmed by these emotions, don’t hesitate to speak with a qualified counsellor, coach or therapist.

When one door closes, another will always open. Keep an open mind and an open heart – be receptive to new obstacles and opportunities that will come your way.”

Read Also: Retrenched in Singapore — How to Deal With the Emotions

Strengthen your skills

Mrs Pauline Leow, a 44-year-old Singaporean who left her corporate job in 2016 and strike it out on her own to become a learning facilitator.

While Mrs Leow wasn’t retrenched, she is a perfect example of how upskilling is equally important, whether or not one is employed.

There are plenty of SkillsFuture courses available for Singaporeans to upgrade themselves, but interestingly only 20% of the resident labour force in Singapore have utilised their credits.

Mrs Leow was originally eyeing a baking course that piqued her interest but decided to instead train in skills that would take her nearer to her career goals.

She used her credits on an advanced certificate in training and assessment course and now teaches effective communications at Republic Polytechnic.

Seek out opportunities

Leong Yew Wah, who was made redundant at 55 years old but continued to improve and upskill himself.

Mr Leong is a perfect example of someone who understands the phrase “time and tide wait for no man.”

Instead of waiting for a job to slowly come his way, he made the decision to seek out opportunities.

Launching himself into Workforce Singapore’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for 12 months, along with the help of WSG’s appointed Career Matching Provider MAXIMUS Asia.

He eventually joined Modern Beauty Wellness Pte Ltd, an SME in the beauty and wellness sector, as a Management Operations Officer.

Get back on your feet

Alan Tang retrenched from a 28-year management career

For 15 months, Mr Tang was out of work, and at a loss of what to do.

Seeking an upturn in fortunes and help to move in the right direction, he approached a career coach at Ingeus, a career matching provider of Workforce Singapore (WSG).

With the advice and assistance provided, he soon found employment in a new industry as a product and market development manager at StarHub.

Read Also: Looking to Do a Career Switch? Here’s How to Find That New Job, and Adjust Quickly!

These are just a handful of success stories out there from people who had once lost their jobs.

In addition to the SkillsFuture programme, there are many forms of assistance and help out there for you.

Discover the MyCareersFuture portal, explore Adapt and Grow and take the first steps necessary for you to get back on your feet again!

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