Singapore’s favourite Uncle of unlucky jobs is back

TL;DR – Not so unlucky this time. 

Remember him? Singapore’s most unlucky Uncle when it comes to jobs. If you don’t remember him, it’s probably because you were not focusing on him from his previous three videos which I would say went pretty viral. In case you have no idea, his name is James See Beh Xiong.

The trilogy previously featured scenes where he job hopped from being a masseuse to a “typical” office worker, and eventually as a retail salesperson.

These screen caps might refresh your memory:

I suppose times are bad and getting a perfect job or staying in one isn’t exactly the easiest thing these days. This time round, James has gotten a new job as…

According to James, it’s tough work. It involves a lot of walking, long hours, and you even have to do things out of your job scope which might or might not include parking cars for others and finding someone’s lost love.

This video might seem like just a good commercial with major comic relief but what he mentioned in the later part of the video is nothing far from truth. Retrenchment is just around the corner for many companies and industries considering the state of our economy. The importance of upskilling, reskill and having to keep up with technology is very real. Such topics have been debated over and over again, especially with the impending threats of robots and machines soon taking over our jobs.

However, as demonstrated in the video, it’s the exact opposite how we will imagine it to be. Technological advancement actually gives people better opportunities as long as they upskill and reskill themselves accordingly to fit into these jobs which not only pay more but are also physically less strenuous.

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The sorry state of affair now

Uncle is right. Security guarding is more about sweat than about skills in Singapore right now, and with all the problems associated with cheap-sourcing, pay is also not fantastic. So the industry sees these problems:

  • Manpower shortage
  • Stagnant wages
  • Low productivity – service buyers not procuring technology and manpower together
  • No motivation for service buyers to move buying behaviour from headcount-based to outcome-based

How severe is our manpower shortage?

It’s a vicious cycle as with the severe manpower shortage, the existing pool of security officers can only work very long hours to ensure that there are enough warm bodies to fulfil the outsourced contracts that are usually headcount-based. With the long hours, they cannot go for training too and so, no upgrading, no progression and no pay increase.

Singapore has a population of 5.6 million and we require 60,000 security officers. However since we’re short by 10,000 to 20,000 security officers, the existing 30,000 to 40,000 security officers have to clock lots of overtime to make up for the shortfall.

What is the industry doing about this?

The Union of Security Employees (USE) has been pushing its tripartite partners to work together to improve the situation and to improve the job prospects and work environment of the security officers. One latest initiative is bringing together two of the largest associations of security agencies, Association of Certified Security Agencies and Security Association (Singapore), to sign an MOU.

Together with USE, these three organisations will form the new Security Industry Council (SIC) to represent stakeholders of the private security industry and work together to enhance productivity, jobs and security outcomes.

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They hope to shift buying behaviour of service buyers so that they will procure security technology and manpower together, to mandate security risk assessments to ensure proper assessment of security needs, establish common industry standards and to promote security as a career of choice.

See, Uncle James knows. 😉


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Smith Leong

Author Smith Leong

Social Media Trainer @ NTUC | Youth Mentor | Labour Champion | Photographer | Content Creator |

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