Friday, February 21, 2014

1340. Myanmar stories - The nursing aide shortage in Singapore

Saturday Feb 21, 2014

On Thursday, I met an employment agent at Khin Khin Employment Agency. Vitalline would be around 60 years old and specialises in placement of nurses and nursing assistants.

He came to get a letter from Khin Khin's company in Myanmar to apply for a business visa to visit Myanmar to interview nursing assistants. A business visa permits mulitple entries but he had not been to Myanmar for the last 2 years since he had a good supply. But in 2014, he has a drought as the government tightens the rules owing to social discontent with too many foreigners.

"When I asked the Myanmar agents, they would supply me one or none," he lamented. So, he sought Khin Khin's help, offering $600 in wages and $500 for accommodation. Khin Khin, being a Myanmarese, knows all the employment agents in Yangon and could communicate with them anytime. She said she could get at least 20 prospects. The veteran would meet the agents when he goes to Myanmar on Feb 27, 2014 but he needed a Myanmar company to sponsor him for the visa application. So, Khin Khin asked me to help write this letter and I had the draft to her manager Soe. .

I re-typed Soe's letter to inform the embassy that he would be invited to Myanmar for a business discussion as her assistant could not or would not learn how to type a business letter. His layout of the letter was bad. He typed Vitalline's name in Capital letters. Instead of wasting time, I just typed the letter for him.

"Your letter is written well, like a Singaporean," he complimented me. He was a busy man and any person in Khin Khin's office must be Myanmarese since they appear to speak Greek amongst themselves. English grammar is hard to master but the Myanmar language is even harder.  

Singapore's population is aging and locals don't want to be nursing assistants. So, there is a great demand for such workers. Myanmar is prospering in the last 2 years and so only high wages would attract some to come. The worry is people trafficking and Vitalline could be charged for that offence if he goes toYangon to do his own interviews without licensed employment agents there. He can't just advertise and meet the prospects.

On the very next afternoon, I was at Khin Khin's office. Two ladies working in Singapore as nursing aides came to enquire about jobs. Khin Khin shouted at them for some reasons. "They are just wasting my time fishing and asking lots of questions," she told me.
"How do you expect them to get jobs if they don't ask questions. Be patient," I advised. "These are 2 prospects for Vitalline and you need not share the commission with your Yangon agent!" Sometimes, I think Khin Khin has no business acumen. Or she just want mega deals like the real estate development of $45 million dollars she had handled, taking so much time and not closing.

I talked to the 2 ladies asking them how much they are paid as work permit holder and how many years they had worked. "$350 with free food and lodging," the younger one had worked  a few months.

"The offer is $600 and $500 for lodging," Khin Khin had a carrot for them. So they would be referred to Vitalline and would get better pay.

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