Feb 1, 2009

Jobs being cut during crisis

Expats not worried yet

By Teo Wan Gek, Huang Huifen & Estelle Low

Retrenchment is a concern for many now but expatriates working here say they are not worried - yet.

In a Sunday Times poll of 50 expats, 34 said they do not expect their employers to wield the axe soon.

Mr Christopher Mead, general manager of Hays Specialist Recruitment Firm, said: 'Although it'll be a tight year ahead for recruitment, Hays has close partnerships with many organisations that'll continue to seek specialist individuals.'

The American Chamber of Commerce here is optimistic about steps taken by the Government to tackle the downturn. 'We applaud the Jobs Credit Scheme in the Budget as it introduces measures that will decrease overall hiring costs, thereby protecting the jobs of both locals and foreigners,' said Ms Laura Deal, its executive director.

That sentiment is shared by MrTerry O'Connor, president of the British Chamber of Commerce.

Most respondents in the survey feel that employers will value capability and skills more than nationality, though there are some like Mr Manish Berlia who feel otherwise.

Mr Berlia, 30, who is from India, was retrenched by financial firm JP Morgan last November. He returned to India for a month but is now back here to look for a job.

'Locals are cheaper to hire and it is easier to have them as they understand the region better,' he said.

The foreign chambers here are working to help their members.

Ms Deal said that to help members who are dealing with issues of employment insecurity, it is starting a 'career transition session' to inform expats on what to do to get to the next step of their careers.

It will include sessions with career coaches and opportunities to connect with headhunters.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce said the Australian businesses are here for the long haul.

'Retrenchment of our members has been minimal. After the 1997 crisis, Asia is well set out to come out of the crisis,' said Ms Annette Tilbrook, its executive director.

Mr Rod Nepomuceno, vice-president of an integrated communications agency, TNBT International, said a sense of worry is healthy.

'This crisis helps us to be more focused and determined to work hard,' he noted.