In response to the economic crisis of our generation, the Singapore government has pulled out all stops and done things they would not normally do. Cash handouts were given. Laws were changed to give flexibility on debt obligations and contractual agreements.
And tens of thousands of jobs were created – some directly by the government, others by quasi-government entities, and still others as a result of incentives provided by the government.
In particular, there have been many short-term jobs created to fulfil frontline roles in the fight against COVID-19, including swabbers, contact tracing personnel, safe distancing ambassadors, and more.
Those in the market for a job might see these temporary jobs or temp jobs – many of which pay well, relative to the unskilled nature of the roles – and wonder if they should take these on, instead of full-time positions that may not seem as lucrative.
High Salary Relative To The Qualifications And Skills Needed For Full-Time Jobs
There is no doubt that most skilled or PMET jobs would pay better than the temporary positions created by the government. However, when compared with entry-level or manual positions, such as those in factories, cleaning, food and beverages or retail, these temporary positions look very attractive. For instance, a safe distancing ambassador could earn between $1,500 to $3,000 while a swabber or swab assistant could earn $3,800 and $3,400, respectively.
So attractive that those in the market for a job may even see them as preferable to more demanding and lower-paying full-time roles. After all, the biggest ‘qualification’ that one needs for taking up those temporary positions is to be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Temporary Nature of Temp Jobs Is Not Sustainable
The biggest downside we should be aware of is the temporary nature of these positions. Most of them are only for a few months, which would not give a lot of assurance to those who count on a steady paycheck to pay their bills and support their families.
Secondly, we need to understand that the current climate where there are plenty of jobs – temporary and full-time ones – are only here as a result of extraordinary measures from Budget 2020, including significant financial incentives to create jobs.
If we were to forgo full-time positions in favour of temporary ones, when our contract expires in a few months, the job market might be very different from the abundant of positions we see today. Temporary jobs like safe distancing ambassadors and swabbers will come and go with the pandemic. Furthermore, our experience as temporary staff is unlikely to be a strong addition to our resumes, compared to working in roles that require more skills, are more technical or with some form of on-the-job training.
Lack Of Job Benefits And Protections For A Temporary Job
Finally, we should also consider employment benefits more holistically. Under the law, being employed full-time means we would receive paid annual leave and sick leave, Public Holiday entitlements, as well as protection against unfair dismissal.
Depending on the company, we may also enjoy dental and healthcare coverage, training opportunities, and other monetary and non-monetary benefits. When seen as a whole, the perceived gap between the temporary roles and permanent ones in the market should close significantly, and perhaps tilt the balance in favour of permanent roles.
Companies that think that the temporary roles are causing them to lose out on prospective applicants may need to do more to design better roles, adjust salaries and benefits, or better communicate their value proposition to attract jobseekers today.
Are There Any Good Reasons To Take On Temporary Positions?
The low-commitment nature of temporary positions makes them suitable for job-seekers who may still be in the process of securing the right job for them, or need to make a decent chunk of change right away.
If you do choose to take on these temporary jobs, you should not lose sight of the fact that they are nothing more than that – temporary. It would be prudent to continue the hunt for a more permanent, sustainable arrangement, while not allowing the ‘high’ pay you’re receiving give you an unrealistic salary expectation for your skills and the current job market.
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