Sunday, November 07, 2021

What can we do in case we become unemployable one day?

I read with dismay some of the stories in this CNA article on mature PMETS. As I have tried to work in the public and legal sectors before, the idea of being unwanted because of m age is not new to me.   

But the story on pseudonym Siva really takes the cake. 

This is a mechanical engineer who claims to have IT and project management qualifications and yet, does not know how to google the web on steps to become a private-hire driver. Is it fair to sympathise with the fact that he was unable to find a job for the last 7 years?

Sometimes, you really have to spare a thought for hirers as well, who's got the time to teach folks the basics like googling the web. Businesses are not charities.

I realise how scary the Siva's in Singapore are. I'm 47 years old this year, will I become a Siva in a decade? Will the older Millenials become a Siva in 20 years? 

If 50-somethings in Singapore lack the basic skills to be employable, some may actually join an SME and tar their hiring experience. Over time, HR professionals will join an alarm every time a 50-something candidate arrives. One day even a decent candidate will be turned down if the SME has had negative experiences before. I heard of at least one rumour that one large law firm has a policy of never hiring SMU JD graduates. These things happen.

Even I'm not getting any younger. If I become irrelevant one day, it may be due to the following reasons :

a) Quantum Computing - This is the largest paradigm shift that can make even a fresh grad today obsolete. 

Once computers no longer run on 1s and 0s and instead on qubits, the foundations of computer science becomes useless. Instead we have to pick up new ideas with Bloch Spheres and Hadamard Transforms, currently taught in local physics programs. 

Even the social sciences are betting transformed, In 2022, a book on Quantum economics will be published. 

I'm struggling to understand this now, but it's harder than anything I've ever done before. 

b) The Metaverse - We don't even know what this is

One day, young folks will just disappear from the Web. They may emerge in a VR world where they work, play and earn some universal currency backed by the FB central bank. I cannot even imagine what devices will be required to jack in into the Metaverse, but some crazy computer scientist will invent an in-metaverse computing platform so we have a platform within the space. 

I suspect by then, I will be too old to play this new game which is the Inception movie in real life.

The only silver lining out of this is that Gen X will enjoy watching Gen Y grow into their 40s and begin their mid-life crisis. My generation is still quite conscientious and enjoyed half of the property boom. It will be entertaining to see how avocado-eating work-life balance advocates with their version of a mid-life crisis where they get displaced by Gen Z. 

How to prepare for the day we become unemployable?

a) Invest aggressively

To resolve the issue, there is an age-old FIRE movement to be able to live on investments before obsolesces kick in. I expect younger guys to incorporate a large cryptocurrency component to their version of FIRE, which I am building, not for me, but for my kids.  Defi in particularly is very friendly to the FIRE movement. 

b) Entrepreneurship

Beyond financial investments, starting a business or dabbling in entrepreneurship may no longer be optional. The savvy employee may take a break from employment to try their hand on business with a full view that failure may see the back in employment. My bet is that running businesses may become a way to cope with mental health issues, where Gen Z will take a break to run a small business when their workplaces become too toxic. 

The idea is that one day, you can afford to employ yourself. 

Anyway, do read the CNA article. 

If anything, just don't become a Siva ok?


1 comment:

  1. What the CNA article highlighted is not new, and anybody who's lived in Singapore for over 30 years should know. Obviously somebody in govt told CNA to write about it.

    What's new is the sudden push by govt about ageism. And it's obviously political as the population ages with declining birthrate, while at the same time aiming to avoid a welfare & social fiasco if too many seniors are forced into "retirement" without adequate funds.

    Covid acted as catalyst with access to & supply of foreign workers being disrupted.

    News stories and TV documentaries in Singapore are often at the direction of govt. Another current policy drive is the notion of having to work for much longer & the idea of retirement being obsolete.

    Again, the mid-point clash of an aging workforce, retirement inadequacy, potential surging of public funding costs, and disruption of foreign workers (today it's covid, tomorrow it may be better opportunities in their own countries that hold them back from coming to S'pore).

    To escape from being a digit or pawn in the sociopolitical machinery, one will need to live life very deliberately & consciously. And unfortunately this has to start in the first 2 or 3 decades of life.

    The vast majority don't do so & end up being victims of their own doing. There's also the tiny minority who lucked out early in life by getting into the right professions or a pedigree govt scholarship, and do well just by going with the organisational-approved flow.