The profile has agreed to share his story under the condition of anonymity. His name has been changed to protect his identity.
Depressed, down on his luck, and desperate to find a job.
Richard Ng, 57, found himself in that situation a few months after he left his warehouse manager job in March 2020.
Things were rosy until COVID-19 struck hard at the logistics industry in 2020. Richard found himself getting the short end of the stick.
“I was in charge of warehouse operations, dealing with packing containers that came from ships. I was responsible for a lot of deliveries. However, workers could not work more than 12 hours a day, and many Malaysians had left. I had deadlines to meet, and without manpower, I couldn’t do anything.
“As head of the department, I couldn’t cope with having to make the targets with insufficient manpower. Within the company, my department was the worse – there was finger-pointing, and I couldn’t take the pressure,” recalled Richard, a 30-over-year industry veteran.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Soon after he left his job, Richard started applying for jobs, but things were far from promising.
“I applied to be a forklift driver with a few companies, but there was no callback. I also tried food packing positions, but there was no response,” shared Richard, who thinks the tepid response may have been due to his age.
Fortunately, he had some savings to tide over the difficult period. However, three months into the futile job hunt, he was in a jam as he only had one month of savings left.
“I knew to survive, I would need to get a job by July. If I didn’t, I would not be able to pay the rent and be homeless. If I didn’t make the maintenance payments to my ex-wife, I would be charged in court and go to jail. I have two daughters aged 18 and 20, who are still schooling.
“I was very down. That was the lowest point in my life, and I thought of ending my life,” revealed Richard.
Touched by an Angel
Desperate for a job, Richard called up several job helplines and soon found NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).
The career coach quickly drew up a short-term plan to help him get a job. She also provided a listening ear to his problems, which eased his anxiety.
“A career coach called me on 13 July and gave me more than five job cuttings for my industry. She told me not to talk about my experience during my interviews and keep a low profile. She taught me to pretend I don’t know anything and listen to their advice, as she didn’t want the companies to think that I’m overqualified,” shared Richard.
The next day, Richard applied for the recommended jobs, landed interviews, and started work on 15 July, just two days after consulting e2i.
The career coach also recommended a financial helpline where he could get support to pay rent.
“I believe in angels now, I believe they are everywhere. You just have to find them like I did,” shared Richard, referring to his life-changing experience with the career coach.
A Fresh Start
He is now an operations executive in a warehousing and logistics firm, doing largely the same job as before.
Although he no longer holds a managerial position and had to take a pay cut, Richard is very grateful to have a job.
“I was not choosy, whether cleaner or whatever – I just wanted a job. Now that I’m occupied with my job, I’m also not thinking nonsense,” he shared.
Richard is happier at the new company as the volume of deliveries is not so great, making the job more manageable.
In fact, his new employer seems to value him, giving him a $500 pay rise just five days into the job.
The e2i career coach also encouraged Richard to embark on a long-term career plan to upgrade his digital skills to ensure his job prospects remain bright.
This included taking up the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace course for basic functional skills in emerging technology, as well as leveraging on SkillsFuture to acquire IT-centric and data-driven skillsets to stay relevant in the evolving job market.
Hopeless to Helpful
Today, Richard wants to do his part to help other jobless people out there.
“I told the career coach I’m willing to help people get a job – I can tell her of the vacancies in this industry and recommend them to my ex-company. Some positions don’t require paper qualifications, and some companies are looking for experienced individuals. The jobseekers should be willing to learn, willing to work odd hours,” he explained.
Richard also hopes his story can inspire those who are looking for a job to not give up.
“I was also asked by the career coach to help to inspire others in the same boat, and some are in worse positions than I was before,” he shared.