SINGAPORE (Mar 11): Three years ago, Richard Koh was 54 and employed at a technology MNC. His two children had already started work, which lightened the financial load on his mortgage and he and his wife’s living expenses. They could spend the weekends cafe hopping, trying out all sorts of cakes (he has a sweet tooth), eggs (she is fond of all sorts of eggs) and artisanal coffee.

Life was leisurely, until Koh’s role at work was made redundant. He was given six weeks’ notice, after which the US$50 million-a-year team he ran was disbanded and Koh was no longer a regional business manager. Koh was one of the 10,890 professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMETs, retrenched in 2016. They made up 56.8% of retrenchments that year, up from 41.7% five years before.

Koh declines to disclose the severance package, but says it was enough for him to get by while he looked for another job. He thought he could go into consultancy and contacted some friends, but then felt the gigs were given out of friendship and were not sustainable. The company put him through an outplacement service that helped him with his resume and LinkedIn profile, but Koh never heard back from the applications he sent out.

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