Photo from Human Resources Online

According to the latest employment figures by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the number of Singaporeans aged 30 and below giving up job search rose 71% to 1,200 in 2016 from 700 in 2015.

Termed as “discouraged workers”, the group is defined as unemployed who gave up job search as they think they are not able to secure one anyway. In 2016, there is a total of 9,000 discouraged workers, up from 8,700 in 2015. 70% of the discouraged workers are retirees aged 50 and above while 12% are young Singaporeans including fresh graduates aged 30 and below.

The result is a stark contrast to the PISA ranking, which surveyed that Singaporean students are the top scorers in Maths, Science and Reading. Apparently, being good at studies doesn’t translate to job opportunities in Singapore. The sentiment is reflected by another recent survey finding Singaporean workers as one of the most pessimistic in the world.

Unemployment figures have risen with unemployment rate hitting a 6-year-high of 3% and for the first time, job seekers exceeded the number of jobs available. The 3% unemployment figures may appear “low” as compared to developed countries but unlike Australia and Japan, the country doesn’t have a Minimum Wage. The Singapore government’s response to-date has been about re-training on SkillsFuture credit, but this is of little help to fresh graduates who have just completed their studies. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say have been silent on the dwindling job availability in Singapore, and the government is blaming “weak global demands” for its economic problems.