Job hunting is always daunting, but it is even more so now for older, mid-career workers such as Ms Lau Disan, who recently moved from the retail sector to early childhood education.

One of the biggest obstacles she faced was that her last-drawn salary was higher than what companies could offer, she said, and she sees how government incentives can help others in the same boat.

Ms Lau, 46, was a retail manager for 15 years in the jewellery line. She left her job in March for another job offer in sales. She was supposed to start in April, but this fell through when the pandemic hit.

“The biggest challenge even before I resigned was the salary part, because if I really wanted to switch careers, I had to take a huge step back in terms of salary,” she said.

“I had to start fresh all over. I had to manage my ego and accept more than a 50 per cent pay cut.”

She added that she sent out many job applications even before the pandemic, but was rejected.

“Looking at my retail experience, it is very hard to map even the soft skills I have onto another sector. People still look at what you did before,” she noted.

This month, Ms Lau got into a Place and Train programme, which provides training and salary support to help workers reskill for new jobs in different sectors.

She is now a trainee childcare educator at Kinderland.

“The pay is very reasonable but still lower than my previous one. The precious part is they are willing to let me try and learn,” she said.

“Incentives will encourage employers to hire people like me. Most of the mid-career workers I have met are very willing to learn, and their many years of experience in the workforce will be a plus point for the employer.”

Source: A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2020, with the headline ‘From retail to early childhood education’.

Author: Sue-Ann Tan