Sunday 1 March 2009

Met a PMET? Check his shirt collar

It seems to be the hot new buzz word of the economic crisis.

And no, I'm not referring to Jobs Credit. That's so two months ago.

Actually, it's not even a word, but an unpronounceable acronym - PMET. It stands for Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians.

(CORRECTION: It has been pointed out that because it's unpronounceable, PMET is actually an abbreviation, not an acronym. Or maybe it's an initialism. I'm not sure of anything anymore.)

I suppose if you really want to, you can pronounce it as "pee met", but that's just gauche.

Last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a new scheme to help PMETs upgrade their skills called the Professional Skills Programme, which has the confusing acronym PSP. It's confusing because everyone knows that PSP stands for Play Station Portable, but that's another column.

PMET has become the catch-all term to describe the "middle class" of Singapore workers.

But how do you know if you're PMET? This is where it may get a little confusing.

P stands for Professionals. What does "professionals" mean? I would like to think that all Singapore workers are professional in their work. But does that make us all PMETs? Hardly.

M stands for Managers. My wife manages our household and the kids - does that make her a PMET? She's a freakin' housewife. So the answer is no.

E stands for Executives. I just printed out some name cards for my son with the title "Junior Executive" and he has a tie - does that make him a PMET? He's 11, so I don't think so.

T stands for Technicians. Just the other day, this guy came to fix my toilet which is a pretty technical job - does that make him a PMET? Actually... maybe. Judging by how much he charged me, he should be making more money than I do.

I read somewhere that PMETs are defined as workers with at least a diploma.

Which means if all you have is A-levels, then sorry, pal, no Play Station Portable for you.

I have an even simpler definition: If you're somewhere between a CEO who receives a billion-dollar bonus despite running the company into insolvency and someone who can be easily replaced by a foreign worker earning 10 times less than you, you're a PMET.

No, wait, that wasn't simple at all. Let's try something else.

Go to the mirror and look at yourself. Are you wearing a shirt?

If you are, does it have a collar?

If it does, is the collar white in colour?

If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you might - just might - be a pee mat.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 March 2009