SINGAPORE — The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will be piloting a programme involving a network of 4,000-odd companies to improve the matching of retrenched workers and professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) to new jobs.
The NTUC Job Security Council, announced by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng on Wednesday (26 February) in Parliament during his Budget 2020 debate speech, will work with these companies to gather information on their job vacancies as well as jobs that will be phased out and those that could be redesigned for workers and PMEs.
This will create an eco-system of matching workers from “releasing” companies to “receiving” companies, Ng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Member of Parliament, added.
Managed by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), the council will help identify skill gaps for workers between existing and new jobs and will work with training partners to provide them with the relevant training.
It will also help companies access government schemes, such as the new SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget 2020 speech last week.
Ng noted the growing concerns among workers, usually in their 40s to 50s and more often PMEs, who find themselves displaced or retrenched because their skills have become redundant as technologies evolve.
“Although these numbers are not large, for the individual worker or PME who has bills to pay and mouths to feed, the situation can create a lot of fear and anxiety,” said Ng. “The NTUC wants to help ease this situation for them.”
More than 90 per cent of the 4,000-odd companies across different sectors are small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ over 500,000 workers. They include Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation as well as Swee Heng Bakery and Montreux Patisserie.
“All these companies stand to benefit from a lower-cost, ready-made recruitment tool, with the added bonus of training and skills upgrading for workers,” said Ng.
He also called on other companies to join the scheme.
In his speech, Ng also noted that Singapore is “facing a deeper, more wide-ranging impact to our economy than before” during the current COVID-19 outbreak, compared with the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis.
“Our world is now much more interconnected with China and the disruption to China’s economy is starting to cause far-reaching ripple effects that have affected Singapore as well,” he said.
For instance, he pointed out that hotel occupancy rates here have fallen to about 35 per cent from 85 per cent and more. “Our taxi and private-hire drivers have experienced income dips of up to 40 per cent in their earnings; attractions have seen visitorship drop by up to 90 per cent,” he added.
Companies are also starting to see delays in the supply chain. “Some are suffering from a shortage of workers, while ironically, others have excess capacity,” he said.
“Our union leaders are working hard to help companies manage excess manpower and reduce costs by arranging for subsidised worker training and upskilling through NTUC LearningHub and NTUC’s e2i during this lull period,” said Ng.
Taking the opportunity to thank those working on the frontline, he added that the NTUC will work closely with the government and businesses to tackle the spread of COVID-19 and protect workers.
“The strong Budget reflects the whole-of-government approach to tackling the virus and maintaining our workers’ confidence in the economy,” he said.